Meet the OPC Members: Q&A With Christopher Miller

Christopher Miller (upper right) interviews the mayor of the village of Hrabove, eastern Ukraine, where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 fell after being shot down by a Russian missile. Photo courtesy of Christopher Miller

Christopher Miller is a correspondent in Kyiv who covers Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics for various outlets, including BuzzFeed News, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Politico Europe, among others. Miller has reported extensively from the front lines in eastern Ukraine since 2014. He formerly served as senior international correspondent for Mashable, and was editor and reporter at Ukraine’s Kyiv Post. He was part of a team that won the 2014 Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism for coverage of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution, Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine. Miller was trained in crisis zone safety by Columbia University’s Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.

Hometown: Portland, Oregon.

Education: Portland State University (B.S. in Liberal Studies, emphasis on the BS.)

Languages: English. Russian. And Ukrainian like a dog, as the Ukrainians say (able to understand but unable to speak much).

First job in journalism: Working the police and fire beat for a local Portland paper that went under – but not because of my reporting.

Countries reported from: Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Malta, Israel and others.

When and why did you join the OPC: I joined in January 2019. As a full-time freelancer roaming the world without much of a safety net, I thought it was important to connect with people doing the same thing.

What first drew you to reporting on Ukraine and other former Soviet republics? I ended up in Ukraine by chance, but I quickly fell in love with the people and the place. I was fascinated by its complexities and there seemed to be hundreds of stories dying to be told.

Major challenge as a journalist:
Dealing with all the waiting around. There can be so much waiting – for official government responses, for sources to get back to you, for visas, for accreditation cards, for permission to enter, for permission to leave, for editors to send readbacks, for a separatist warlord to radio back that you won’t be shot and you can be on your way.

Best journalism advice received:
Keep ‘em talking.

Worst experience as a journalist: Reporting on the assassination of a journalist friend and colleague.

When traveling, you like to … eat all the food I can find that is served in a wrap of some sort.

Hardest story: Covering the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine and the aftermath.

Journalism heroes: C.J. Chivers. Ellen Barry. Marie Colvin.

Advice for journalists who want to work overseas: When you arrive, say yes to everything (within reason, of course). Immerse yourself in the culture. Avoid expat bars but do make contacts with those correspondents who could help support you and/or get you out of a jam.

Dream job: I’m doing it, more or less. I’d just like to get paid more to do it and be eligible for benefits, too.

Favorite quote: “We are made to persist. That’s how we find out who we are.” – Tobias Wolff

Place you’re most eager to visit:
Central Asia.

Most over-the-top assignment:
In Eastern Europe, a lot of stories can feel over the top. One from the past couple of months was to visit and write about a pop-up village modeled and named after the one from Fiddler on the Roof that Rudy Giuliani had been made honorary mayor of.

A most common mistake you’ve seen: Thinking you know what the story is before you even hit the ground.

Country you most want to return to: Turkey.

Twitter handle: @ChristopherJM