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IMI overview: Only British media treated the missile strike on "Okhmatdyt" as top news of the day

10.07.2024, 17:22

Only the British media treated the Russian missile attack on the children's hospital "Okhmatdyt" on July 8 as the most important event of the day, while US media and journalists from other countries treated it as second-tier news.

The Institute of Mass Information experts made this conclusion after reviewing the websites of global media outlets.

The analysis of Western news reports on the "Okhmatdyt" missile attack showcased different approaches to covering the event and refuting Russia's disinformation about it. Some outlets provided more detailed and immediate coverage, including refutations of Russia's claims, while others only mentioned the attack in passing or reported on it with a delay.

"Not all Western media promptly and accurately covered the missile attack on 'Okhmatdyt'. The BBC, the Associated Press, and Reuters did the best in this regard, not only reporting the news promptly, but also clearly refuting Russia's fake claims. Other media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Le Figaro, did not pay sufficient attention to this incident and to refuting Russia's statements, which may indicate the editors' other priorities," the IMI overview says.

How foreign media reported on the "Okhmatdyt" missile strike

The Washington Post. The US news outlet did not post a dedicated news item on the destruction of the "Okhmatdyt" building, but mentioned in a few lines in their news about the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's visit to China. The piece did not make it to the top news nor to the second tier; it was placed in the lower third of the home page. In the article, the missile hitting "Okhmatdyt" is mentioned in the 4th paragraph, then again in the 27th paragraph. Overall, only four paragraphs out of 29 are about the missile attack on Ukraine, the rest is about the international talks and the reactions to these talks.

The New York Times. The US website's top top news for July 8 was about the upcoming elections in the country. The news about the missile strike on "Okhmatdyt", titled "Russia Strikes Children’s Hospital in Deadly Barrage Across Ukraine", has faded into the background. This article also made it into the newspaper on July 9; in the printed version, the news was titled "Russian Strike Levels Children’s Hospital in Kyiv" and was placed on the front page and on page 8.

The article mentions the damage and losses caused by the Russian missile attack. The report contains a description of the situation in "Okhmatdyt" following the strike and comments from witnesses – doctors and mothers. It also notes that it was a Russian Kh-101 missile that hit the hospital. The authors did not cite Russian propaganda.

CNN. The top news on the American TV channel's website on July 8 was about the elections in France and the US. Missile attacks on Ukraine made it to the day's main news. In the first half of the day on July 9, the news ranked second. One part of the article is a report from "Okhmatdyt" with comments from the hospital staff and mothers of the children who were being treated there. Another part is the response to the missile attack from Britain's new Prime Minister Keir Starmer, French officials, and a mention that the UN Security Council will hold a special meeting to discuss "Russia's deadly strike on a children's hospital."

The text also included the statement by Russia's Ministry of Defense, who claimed that Moscow had struck  "military industrial facilities of Ukraine and air bases of the Ukrainian armed forces" using long-range, high-precision weapons.

Associated Press. To the American news agency, the US elections were the main topic for July 8. The missile attack on Ukraine made it to the list of the day's main events. The news was published under the headline "Dozens are killed as Russia bombards Ukraine. Among the buildings hit was a Kyiv children's hospital." The text was updated several times, and the final headline mentioned that this was Russia's largest attack in the last four months, in which a children's hospital was hit. The article includes a map of Kyiv with the locations of missile hits.

The news piece features the responses from Ukrainian officials and representatives of Western countries and international organizations. The Russian MoD's denial of having targeted civilian objects with missiles is accompanied by a remark that the claims that the damage was caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile lack evidence.

BBC. The British public broadcaster placed the missile attack on Ukraine at the top on its website. In total, the article contained 31 pieces. The news piece explains that the children's hospital "Okhmatdyt" is the largest pediatric institution in Ukraine, provides comments from doctors and mothers. The featured responses to the missile attack include quotes from several Ukrainian officials, British Prime Minister Keir Starmer and Foreign Minister David Lammy, representatives of the United Nations. Next, the article refutes Russia's claims that the Russian military had only targeted “Ukrainian military industrial sites and air bases” and the MoD's blaming of the destruction in Kyiv on Ukrainian air defences.

The Guardian. The top news in the British news outlet was the election in France, followed by the missile attack on Ukraine. The responses to the missile attack include quotes from Ukrainian officials and representatives of some Western countries and organizations that condemned Russia's actions. The report by Pjotr Sauer from "Okhmatdyt" was published by the Guardian as a separate article under the title "‘No words for this’: horror over Russian bombing of Kyiv children’s hospital". In this material, "witnesses express shock and revulsion after deadly missile strike on Ukraine’s largest paediatric clinic."

On the morning of July 9, events in and around Ukraine made it to the Guardian's top news.

Reuters. The British news agency made the missile attack on Ukraine top news on July 8. Several articles were devoted to this topic. The main one is "Russian missile attack kills 36, hits children's hospital, Ukraine says". As the number of casualties grew, the news piece was edited. The outlet cites the responses from both Ukrainian and Western officials.

Russia's position is given with clarification that "Moscow has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, although its attacks have killed thousands of civilians since it launched its invasion in February 2022." Reuters reports Russia's position in a separate news story, which does not mention that the Kremlin's previous denials of civilian deaths contradicted actual death toll among Ukrainian civilians. Instead, the outlet cited Moscow's statement and noted that the Russian missile attack on Ukraine was "retaliation for attacks on Russia."

Al Jazeera. On July 8, the Qatari international television company posted an article titled "Israeli attacks across Gaza kill 40 in a day, force thousands to flee" as the top news on its website. The story about the missile attack on Ukraine was posted with the headline "Children's hospital attacked as 31 killed in missile strikes across Ukraine". The material is a selection of news, updated in real time. A total of 53 news items were published.

The editors started their live reporting with official messages from the Ukrainian authorities and photos from "Okhmatdyt". Then came the reactions by officials from the EU, Great Britain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UN. In the same news feed, the editors posted a message about shelling in Belgorod. The reporting contains comments from the victims, explains that "Okhmatdyt" is the largest children's hospital in Ukraine, which was hit by a "Russian hypersonic missile". The report also cites the Russian Ministry of Defense, which claimed that the destruction of the hospital was caused by a Ukrainian anti-aircraft missile falling down. The ex-deputy chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, is also quoted as saying that the attack on "Okhmatdyt" was deliberate.

Le Figaro. The main topic of the French newspaper on July 8 was the election in France. It was immediately followed by Ukraine, where the Russian missile attack is described in one paragraph. The news item did not mention "Okhmatdyt" nor explain that a children's hospital was destroyed. The hospital is only mentioned in the next paragraph, which describes Zelensky's reaction to the missile attack.

The authors did not in any way explain what kind of hospital it is, that it is the largest one in Ukraine, that it works, that surgeries were being carried out in it at the moment of the strike. Le Figaro reports on the response from the international community: France, the United States, the United Nations, and the United Kingdom. All of them condemn the missile attack on civilian objects, including the children's hospital. The British diplomat's response makes a mention of "Okhmatdyt". Russia's reaction is not mentioned. Instead, there is news of the visit of India's Prime Minister to Moscow.

Later, another article appeared on the Le Figaro website: "Ukraine: Volodymyr Zelensky Swears to Respond to Russia's Massive and Deadly Attacks". The news article quotes Volodymyr Zelensky's post about the consequences of the Russian missile strike, which affected Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Slovyansk and Kramatorsk: "Residential buildings, infrastructure and a children's hospital, one of the largest in Europe, were damaged." Here the author does note that the children's hospital "Okhmatdyt" came under fire. Russia's denial of their involvement in the attack is also mentioned, as well as Russia's claims that the damage was caused by the fall of Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles. Moscow's position is refuted by Ukrainian special services, which claim that "Okhmatdyt" was hit by a Kh-101 missile.

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