First post of the year
Welcome to my first blog post of the year.
I find it hard to write about Ukraine and what’s happening at the moment. Somebody at work said to me the other day ‘The war’s stopped in Ukraine now hasn’t it?’ I replied ‘What makes you say that?’ and he said ‘Well you never hear anything about it on the news anymore’. And that’s the problem isn’t it? The western media refuse to cover the conflict for reasons only known to them.
There are a very small number of freelance journalists and photographers who have travelled out to the conflict zones and are reporting form there, but obviously they are few and far between and restricted financially. And with no financial backing, their time in these areas is limited.
I recently heard about two Dutch journalists Stefan Beck and Michel Spekkers who travelled to Donbass to do just this and had their equipment seized when they arrived back at Schiphol Airport. You can read about the confiscation of their material Here. Okay, the seizure was linked to material relating the the MH17 flight disaster, but the fact that ‘all’ their material was seized (including street interviews with people not related to MH17) left a big question mark as to the motive of such actions.
Transparency is the key here. Journalists and photographers should be free to go unhindered when returning back to their native countries. Authorities attempting to take some form of control over what footage can or can’t be seen is a big no no. It only leads to numerous accusations and defeats the object of obtaining such material in the first place.
Without stating the obvious, there are lessons to be learned here of course. Prepare for the worst. Make back ups of your footage and if you suspect that you might be getting ‘lifted’ on your return, find another way to get your equipment back into the country. I already know of many journalists who deactivate their finger print recognition on their phone when going through customs for fear of being forced to unlock their phone and its contents. Real world problems eh?