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The limits of what is acceptable have shifted after all – Oksana Romaniuk about the work of mass media during the Izyum exhumation

20.09.2022, 17:05
Photo credit: National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting
Photo credit: National Council of Television and Radio Broadcasting

The Ukrainian media are beginning to change their approach to the interpretation of what is ethical after what the Russians did in Bucha, Izyum, and Mariupol.

This was stated by IMI's executive director Oksana Romaniuk during the expert discussion "Media and Democratic Standards in Wartime."

According to her, the photos taken by the media in these cities are "striking and may hurt someone's feelings."

Oksana Romaniuk stressed that in ordinary life, she would say that such photos should be blurred. However, during the war, they are extremely important, as they help record Russia's war crimes and tell the whole world about these crimes.

"We are very worried by the censorship on social media, when we are forced to invent new synonyms to convey our feelings and inform our audience, our colleagues about what is happening. I think that the boundaries that existed before the war have shifted a little now. I have seen our colleagues reporting on the mass burial in Izyum. Of course, you don't need to show anything super scary, but using artistic means, using journalistic skill, can help convey the message. Even that photo of a hand, I think everyone has seen it, is extremely striking and telling," she noted.

Romaniuk added that last week, IMI received three messages from different media outlets asking how to ethically cover Izyum, the crimes that Russians had committed in this city.

"And we came to the conclusion that what matters most for us is the feelings of the victims' families. This is the main thing. And that these families should be informed before such information gets into the media. This is probably the main ethical barrier for us. That the audience must know these things, even if they are painful. I think that we have found an answer to this question, that this is socially important information, and that societal importance now prevails over issues that may have caused us doubts before," Oksana Romaniuk believes.

As reported by IMI, Ukrainian Ambassador to Austria Vasyl Khymynets was outraged by the report from Izyum by the correspondent of the Austrian ORF in Ukraine, Christian Wehrschütz. On September 16, ZIB2 aired a story about the mass graves discovered in the forest near Izyum, which had been liberated from Russian troops. In the story, ORF's correspondent in Ukraine Christian Wehrschütz talked about his trip to the liberated city.

He stated that currently, the Ukrainian officials' statements regarding the war crimes possibly committed by the Russian Federation in Izyum cannot be verified and that "we have to wait for what the coroners say." Citing an unnamed "investigator from the Kharkiv police," the correspondent stated that the recovered bodies of the victims were found in a very bad condition, and that "there are signs of possible war crimes in some cases, but still many people there died from artillery shelling."

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