Editorial: Journalists also pay the ultimate price in Ukraine | Opinion

The stories and images emerging from Ukraine are indelible: the March 16 bombing of the Mariupol Drama Theatre, where hundreds of civilians were huddled together for safety, the word “CHILDREN” printed in white letters giants outside the building in a vain attempt to stave off an attack. The bombardment of a maternity hospital which buried children under the rubble. The death of Boris Romantschenko, who survived Nazi concentration camps only to be killed at 96 by a Russian missile strike in Kharkiv.

These tragedies are offset by stories of Ukrainian triumph, its military and civilians showing tremendous resilience in the face of the onslaught of the Russian military, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejecting a US evacuation offer, saying: “The fight is there; I need ammo, not a round.

These stories galvanized the world against the naked aggression of Russian President Vladimir Putin. But they come at a huge cost to journalists on the ground at the center of the conflict. Five journalists have been killed since the start of the conflict:

Yevhenii Sakun, 49, was a cameraman for Ukrainian station LIVE. He died on March 1 when a television tower in Kyiv was hit by Russian bombing;

Brent Renaud, a 50-year-old American filmmaker working for Time magazine, was killed on March 13 when Russian soldiers opened fire on the car he was traveling in outside kyiv.

Oleksandra Kuvshynova, 24, was a producer and consultant for Fox News, helping teams navigate the area and speak with sources. She was shot and killed on March 14.

Pierre Zakrzewski, a 55-year-old cameraman for Fox, was traveling with Kuvshynova in the town of Horenka when their vehicle was attacked. Another Fox reporter, Benjamin Hall, was seriously injured.

Oksana Baulina, a reporter for The Insider, an independent Russian news site, was killed on March 23 while filming Russian shelling in kyiv.

They all died giving voice to those most affected by barbarism. Each knew the dangers of their profession but entered the war zone in search of the truth. Because make no mistake, this is as much a war of misinformation and lies as it is a war of missiles and bullets. Putin’s regime has cracked down on the Russian press while stepping up its disinformation efforts in Ukraine, the rest of Europe, and abroad, including here in the United States. The journalists who gave their lives – and those who continue to report from war zones – have sought to provide an antidote to the lies of a despot.

“Truth is the target,” Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said of the attack that hit the Fox News team, referring to Putin’s attempt to silence his country’s media. And the Committee to Protect Journalists called Russia’s actions “reckless” and called on the country’s military “to stop targeting media facilities and equipment”.

Baulina sought to bring accurate and flawless reporting to his fellow Russians and had previously worked at the Anti-Corruption Foundation, founded by the Kremlin’s top critic, Alexei Navalny. His work, and the work of countless others in Ukraine, has laid bare Putin’s lies and brought to light the horrors of war for the rest of the world.

Those who cherish democracy must also recognize the importance of a free press, not only abroad, but in the United States. We are in a time when truth is increasingly under siege. Sakun, Renaud, Kuvshynova, Zakrzewski and Baulina have understood this, as have the thousands of journalists serving their communities here at home. We mourn the loss of those killed in Ukraine and resolve to honor their search for the truth.