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Crowdsourcing Mornings: Eastern European Independent Journalist Fund

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An urgent lifeline for journalists from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus

Local independent journalism, the most important source of truth in times of war, is today literally hanging by a thread not only in Ukraine but also in Russia and Belarus. To provide immediate support to local journalists working under the most extreme pressure,  we – a group of over 25 media support organizations and media outlets with deep experience across the region – are launching the Eastern European Independent Journalist Fund. The fund will pay for stories produced by Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Russian journalists who are reporting the truth on the war despite the enormous risks.

The fund will serve as a lifeline to allow them to stay on the job even as their normal income plummets or vanishes, the direct consequence of living and working in or near a war zone.

Like all facets of life in Ukraine, the practice of journalism has been upended. Journalists who normally cover other areas are now war correspondents, in their own country – with no training and no experience. Normal sources of income for Ukrainian media – such as advertising and subscriptions – are disappearing if not already gone. But these reporters stay on the job, unpaid and in danger, not knowing how or when their next paycheck will come. Depending on the days ahead, many might be compelled to flee abroad and do their best to report from there.

Other groups are raising money to provide security gear and medical equipment, or helping individual journalists and news outlets relocate abroad. The Eastern European Independent Journalist Fund will pay them directly for their reporting work for local and national media outlets so they can continue to accurately inform their audiences and to tell the world what’s happening on the ground.

We also must not forget the Belarusian reporters who continue to report on their government’s role in the war. Almost all of them are operating from abroad, victims of the crackdown launched by authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka after a disputed election in August 2020 led to massive protests. Since last summer, after the regime began to brutally attack any and all media dissent, hundreds of journalists have escaped to neighboring countries, including Ukraine. Now, many have had to uproot themselves and their families again. Exiled Belarusian journalists also need our assistance.

And lest we forget: Not all Russian journalists toe the government line and many have been paying the price. Russian reporters, both at home and abroad, are pushing back against Russia’s massive propaganda machine. For example: Led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, Novaya Gazeta leads a coalition of 25 independent Russian media outlets, “Syndicate 100.” They penned a joint statement calling for an end to the war that read, in part: “Pain, anger, and shame are three words that reflect our attitude to what is happening. This invasion will bring grief to the families of thousands of people in Ukraine and Russia. … We promise that we will be honest about what is happening while we have this opportunity.” As the authorities have moved to crush the last remaining independent outlets, many have fled, fearing draconian prison sentences. The Eastern European Independent Journalist Fund will also help them.

 

As of March 29th, this project has raised $13,000 of their $30,000 goal. This project has 3 days left to raise the $30,000 or it will not be funded.  For a pledge of $25, you will get 15 articles.  For a pledge of $50, you will get 25 articles.  To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lifeline4journalists/eastern-european-independent-journalist-fund?

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