Two Fox journalists killed in Ukraine, underscores danger

David Bauder, The Associated Press

Published Tuesday, March 15, 2022 4:07 PM EDT

Last Updated Tuesday, 15 March 2022 18:25 EDT

NEW YORK (AP) – A 24-year-old veteran videographer and Ukrainian journalist who worked for Fox News, both died when their vehicle was attacked outside Kyiv, the network said on Tuesday.

Pierre Zakrzewski, 55, and Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova traveled Monday in Horenka with Fox News reporter Benjamin Hall, who is still hospitalized.

“Today is a heartbreaking day for Fox News Media and for all the journalists who are risking their lives to deliver the news,” the network’s CEO, Suzanne Scott. said in the staff memo.

On Sunday, documentary filmmaker Brent Renaud, another veteran covering war zones, was killed when Russian troops opened fire on his vehicle in Irpin, also outside Kyiv.

The sudden deaths of three journalists underscores the dangers faced by those who chronicle the war in Ukraine, even those with extensive experience covering from conflict zones.

The danger to journalists seems to be increasing by the day, as the fighting appears to be getting more brutal and concentrated in more urban areas, said Summer Lopez, director of the Free Expression Program at PEN America.

Zakrzewski, an Irish citizen based in London, has covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria for Fox and won an internal “unsung hero” award for playing a key role last year in getting Fox freelancers and their families out of Afghanistan following the withdrawal. US. He has been working in Ukraine since February.

“What a nice guy,” tweeted Fox national security reporter Jennifer Griffin.

Trey Yingst, another colleague who worked with Zakrzewski in Ukraine, called it “as good as they come.”

Kuvshynova is a local “problem solver,” as it is known in war zones. He helped the Fox crew navigate the Kyiv area, gathering information and talking to sources. He has a passion for music, art and photography, Scott said in a staff memo.

“Several of our correspondents and producers spent long days with him reporting news and getting to know him personally, describing him as hardworking, funny, kind and brave,” Scott wrote. “His dream is to connect people around the world and tell their stories and he fulfills that through his journalism.”

In Washington on Tuesday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, thanked journalists who were on the ground in Ukraine.

“Ricking their lives to tell the world the truth” is something that Ukraine and the world desperately need, he told the National Press Club.

Jane Ferguson, PBS’s “NewsHour” correspondent in Ukraine who also reports from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Syria, said on Twitter that the war was “very difficult to cover as a field reporter, unlike anything I have seen or experienced before. ”

With intense artillery fire that could reach for miles and soldiers’ positions unclear, there was really no front line, wrote Ferguson.

Ferguson said he and his crew were recently pulled out of their car at gunpoint by Ukrainian soldiers who mistakenly thought they were being filmed from a car. The journalists were waved after their credentials were checked, “but for a few minutes it was pretty bad.”

There are few journalists who officially join forces – as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example – so many reporters who are self-driving, and without good intelligence, which is very dangerous, Ferguson said.

In an interview, ABC News reporter Martha Raddatz said Ukraine reminded her to cover the siege of Sarajevo because there were no US troops there.

“That’s a big thing for me,” he said. “You realize, ‘Oh, wait. There are no Americans here. There is no refuge for us here.’ I think you are well aware of that. ”

Gulnoza Said, coordinator of the Europe and Central Asia Program for the Committee to Protect Journalists, has heard from journalists in Ukraine concerned about checkpoints where it is not clear whether they are coming to the Russian or Ukrainian army.

He said reporters told him they were concerned that Ukrainian authorities might seek to limit the areas and hours in which they could work.

“I needed to find out exactly what they wanted to do,” he said. “I hope it’s not because they want to control the war narrative.”

News of Zakrzewski’s death hit hard on Tuesday in Ireland. Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said he was deeply disturbed by the news.

“My thoughts are with their family, friends and fellow journalists,” Martin said. “We condemn this indiscriminate and immoral war by Russia in Ukraine.”

Associated Press correspondents Lynn Elber in Los Angeles and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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