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- Our Western partners are eager to help. They know that Ukrainian journalists are in desperate need of support. This is where our fund comes in. We have close relationships with many Ukrainian outlets who keep us up to date on the need of journalists there. - Roman Imielski, deputy chief editor of Gazeta Wyborcza, explains before emphasizing that "Ukrainian journalists do not want to leave their country. They want to report from the front lines, make sure that the entire world knows what is happening in Ukraine".
For Joanna Krawczyk, the chairwoman of Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation, the decision to launch the Fund was an easy call to make.
- Ukrainian journalists simply want to fulfill their journalistic duty. Needless to say, we feel obliged to support them in any way we can.
Imielski: "We are talking about incredibly brave individuals who are also the victims of this senseless invasion. Their ambition is to fight against the Russian propaganda by providing verified information about the war. In Kherson and Melitopol, journalists became immediate targets for the Russian secret services as soon as Kremlin forces took control of those cities. This shows the importance of independent media, including in the eyes of the aggressors who are hell bent on destroying them".
How does the fund support Ukrainian journalists? First and foremost by providing financial support to Ukrainian media outlets. "It is fair to say that Ukrainian companies are not looking to publish media ads at the moment, for obvious reasons. People are fighting for their lives and fleeing their homes" - Imielski explains.
- The business model collapsed entirely. Ukrainian media can hardly count on any income right now, which means that they are unable to cover their expenses, including paying their journalists. As a result, journalists are deprived of means of living and providing for their families. This is why we offer to fund their salaries" - Krawczyk adds. At the moment 60 Ukrainian journalists receive such support, which will continue for at least the coming three months.
The fund also provides material support. It sends shipments of special bulletproof vests for journalists, helmets, goggles, first aid kits, and other equipment requested by journalists who are on the ground. Krawczyk: "we are in contact with three different Ukrainian media organizations on a daily basis. They keep us informed about the changing needs of those who report from the front."
Furthermore, Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation, together with its Scandinavian media and academic partners, collects electronic equipment for Ukrainian journalists - cameras, video recorders, drones, and laptops, among others.
All the aforementioned goods are regularly shipped from Gazeta Wyborcza headquarters in Warsaw to Lviv, before being redistributed to Ukrainian outlets across the country.
There is a symbolic aspect to the help that goes beyond the material and financial support, Imielski noticed. "We hear from our Ukrainian colleagues that the very fact that we are here for them and that we are willing to lend our hand is in itself of huge importance. Just the simple fact that they can call us and tell us what they need. Ukrainians feared that they would be left completely on its own following the Russian invasion. Now they feel the support flowing from all over the Western democratic world. Our friends know that their fight is not ignored."
Multiple outlets and journalistic organizations joined the Ukrainian Media Fund as partners of the Gazeta Wyborcza Foundation, including Bonnier News from Sweden, Swedish Media Publishers’ Association, Danish Newspapers Association, Finnish Media Federation, News Media Finland, and Norwegian Media Businesses’ Association.
The Fund has been supported by other European media and cultural organizations: European Cultural Foundation, Swedish television T4 ,Swedish TV2, Sanoma Media Finland, A-lehdet Oy and HSS Media from Finland, Norwegian media groups: Polaris and NHST and Stiftelsen Skelleftepress. Many other institutional and individual Donors joined our cause as well.
You can donate to or learn more about the fund here.
Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.
We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs.
The access to information should be equal for all.