In response to the urgent need facing Ukrainian journalists, the Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation launched the Emergency Ukrainian Media Fund, a project designed to raise money to help news media companies in Ukraine. The assistance is being offered in many forms, from purchasing much-needed equipment to providing financial aid to allow journalists to continue working.
Joanna Krawczyk, president of the board of the Foundation and head of partnerships for Gazeta Wyborcza, told INMA the board launched the fund on February 28, four days after Russia’s attack on Ukraine began.
“We are looking at the war in Ukraine and how we can help fellow journalists,” she said. In a time when need for help is great throughout the country, the Foundation is focusing directly on the needs of the media.
“We want to make sure local media outlets in Ukraine, especially in war zones, have operational budgets for doing their work — and also to make sure they can organise relocation of themselves and their families, if necessary.”
Other priorities are equipping journalists with protective and communication gear, securing relocation in other European countries if needed, and finally, looking at the long-term rebuilding process.
Funds raised so far
As part of its efforts, the Foundation transferred US$23,936 to the Association of Independent Regional Publishers of Ukraine, which will cover salaries for media companies in some of the hardest-hit areas.
“In total, 34 journalists from eight media companies will be funded for two months,” Krawczyk said. “Transfers to other Ukrainian media and journalistic organisations are waiting to be made.”
Some of the funds will be spent on equipment, including tactical medical kits, power banks, satellite phones, laptops, and flak jackets.
In the first 10 days of its campaign, the Foundation collected US$294,797, with more funds promised from media companies in Nordic countries. Participating partners currently include Bonnier News, Swedish Media Publishers’ Association, Swedish television T4, Danish Newspapers Association, Finnish Media Federation, News Media Finland, Sanoma Media Finland, A-lehdet Oy and HSS Media from Finland, and Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association.
“We are collaborating with a network of media organisations led by GFMD [MediaDev Fundraising Guide] regarding the flow of information and coordination of needs of media in Ukraine and donors’ resources, including the Ukrainian organisations Lviv Media Forum, National Union of Journalists, and Association of Independent Regional Publishers of Ukraine,” she said.
They are also asking other organisations in Europe to participate and will launch a fundraising initiative aimed at readers.
The response to the fundraising effort has been swift and “overwhelming” but not surprising, Krawczyk said: “The founding mothers and fathers of the fund are associations with a few hundred members in Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Sweden. They reached out to their members and now we are collecting pledges from publishers associated with them. It’s a classic snowball effect, which I am very happy about.”
Joining the effort
Board member Peter Wolodarski of Dagens Nyheter and Bonnier News’ Thomas Mattsson, board member of the Swedish Media Publishers’ Association, were among the first to encourage their colleagues to join the initiative, resulting in the collection of vests, helmets, tactical gloves, goggles, and more than 100 power banks. These supplies were shipped to the newly established Lviv Press Freedom Center on March 11 to be distributed amongst local media.
On March 4, 71 Swedish newspaper editors-in-chief signed and published a statement to show their support for Ukraine, and analytics show that messaging had the potential reach of 22.7 million readers in addition to a social media reach of 27 million readers.
Nordic newspapers have played a key role in raising funds and collecting gear, and Mattsson told INMA they are working on building up a fund dedicated for Ukraine because the need will be great and ongoing.
“At this time, we must gather money and safety equipment at the same time. From e-mails and conversations with media executives in Ukraine, I know that there are great needs,” Mattsson said. “And in the future, we must be ready to rebuild newsrooms and perhaps relocate journalist and their families.”
The industry as a whole should be willing to help Ukraine through donations, he said: “Ukrainian newspapers and TV stations do not have our resources. Their staff haven’t been to war security training courses, and many lack helmets and flak jackets. So it’s a moral cause, too: We have to help them to report as safely as possible.”
It’s important to understand the damage being inflicted today will have lasting results that publishers in other countries should be prepared to help with in years to come.
“Long term, we must probably host Ukrainian journalists and perhaps entire newsrooms,” Mattsson said. “We must reinvest in media infrastructure in Ukraine.”