“It is a question I lay in bed thinking about at night,” Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst tells THR of the question posed by journalists covering Russia’s war in Ukraine since Feb. 24, when the first missiles rained down: “How do I make people care?”
Just before that night, Ukrainians were “going about their lives, going to school, to work, taking their children to the playground,” CBS News correspondent Holly Williams says. “They were worried, but not all Ukrainians thought it was going to happen.” Then everything changed, and journalists began to take risks to make viewers care — for example, by broadcasting the refugee crisis through graphic images, including civilians killed in Russian bombardments and miles-long lines of people seeking to cross the border into Poland. “The core of any conflict,” says ABC News foreign correspondent Ian Pannell, “are the people trapped in the middle, the people who don’t get a vote … the kids, the elderly, the ones who didn’t choose war.”
It has taken a toll on those covering it, too. The National Union of Journalists of Ukraine says 20 members of the media have died; a Fox News crew was hit by Russian shelling March 14, killing a cameraman and severely wounding a correspondent. Despite risk, news organizations continue to bring the reality of the war to the rest of the world.
Clarissa Ward, Claudia Otto
Reporting from Kharkiv in April, Ward led live shots from this destroyed regional state administration building. Meanwhile, CNN has been one of only a few U.S. news outlets with regular live reports from the Russian side of the Ukraine border, where senior producer and photojournalist Otto reported from a snowy train station in Belgorod (pictured below). In the early days of the war, CNN cameras rolled as Russian tanks and other equipment were moved to the Ukraine border. “It is really hard to convey to people the dynamic and emotions of people who are incredibly peaceful and, for most of Ukraine, very far away from years of war, suddenly having a rampaging, violent army bursting through their town,” says CNN international security editor Nick Paton Walsh on his reporting from the country.
Richard Engel, Lester Holt
NBC chief foreign correspondent Engel reported from Kharkiv, where he and his team found “an 88-year-old Ukrainian woman sitting by herself in front of her home, crying, disoriented and frightened. ‘I’m so afraid, my whole body is shaking,'” she told the correspondent.
NBC Nightly News anchor Holt reported from Ukraine in early March. Amid reporting on updates in the war, he posted March 8 that he “visited a family-owned metal factory that has gone from making kitchenware to war materials like these anti-tank barriers,” as seen below.
Martha Raddatz, James Longman
Raddatz, ABC’s senior global affairs correspondent and co-anchor of This Week, hosted the Sunday show from Ukraine amid the invasion. Here, she interviewed an American who joined the Ukrainian armed forces in the fight against Russia.
Foreign correspondent Longman, meanwhile, spoke to a man who described seeking shelter from Russian shelling in his basement before taking the ABC team to “three graves he dug for his friends,” who were killed for their age and not having an acceptable ID.
Jennifer Griffin, Trey Yingst
Fox News national security correspondent Griffin sounded the alarm early about Russia’s intentions when it came to Ukraine, pushing back on-air against commentators who doubted an invasion would happen. Weeks later, she was in the country reporting on Russia’s atrocities. Below, she interviewed “a young man named Petro, who described being held by Russian forces for three days, hooded, beaten and then released,” she emailed to THR.
Fox News foreign correspondent Yingst, meanwhile, spent nearly two months in the country before and during the war. “Here I’m standing next to my security personnel, Rich [right],” Yingst says via email. “Behind us is the destruction in Bucha left behind by Russian forces.”
Holly Williams, Charlie D’Agata
Shortly after the war began, foreign correspondent Williams told THR about spending time with Ukrainian soldiers in the country’s east. “I suppose some of the people I’ve met have already lost their lives. And they are very young people. It is distressing,” Williams added.
Posting from Kyiv on March 2, producer Justine Redman observed that they’d caught the “biggest blasts we’ve ever seen, just as we were coming off-air.” Senior foreign reporter D’Agata turned as the explosion hit. “That was close,” he said at the time.
This story first appeared in the May 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.