OPC Winner Among Journalists Killed Covering Ukraine Conflict

A photo of Brent and Craig Renaud, taken from the OPC’s 2006 Dateline magazine to accompany their Carl Spielvogel Award for reporting on Iraq War soldiers.

by OPC Past President Deidre Depke

OPC laments the deaths of three journalists in three days, illustrating the growing danger of reporting in conflict zones. American journalist and filmmaker Brent Renaud, 50, was killed March 13 in a suburb of Kyiv, Ukraine, while covering the war there. Photographer Juan Diego Arredondo, the 2020 winner of the OPC Foundation’s Harper’s Magazine Scholarship in memory I.F. Stone, also was wounded in what Kyiv police described as an attack by Russian forces. Arredondo spoke to a reporter while he was getting treatment for his wounds at a hospital, before he had learned of his colleague’s death.

A total of four journalists covering the war have lost their lives in Ukraine in the last 21 days. Renaud was shot and killed in the town of Irpin; Fox News journalist Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova and cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski were killed and journalist Benjamin Hall was injured in artillery fire near Kyiv on March 15; and Ukrainian cameraman Yevheniy Sakin was killed during the bombing of Kyiv TV tower on March 1.

On Twitter, Jane Ferguson, a reporter for the PBS Newshour, said she was nearby when Renaud was killed. “Just left roadside spot near Irpin where body of American journalist Brent Renaud lay under a blanket. Ukrainian medics could do nothing to help him by that stage. Outraged Ukrainian police officer: ‘Tell America, tell the world, what they did to a journalist.’”

Renaud was a 2005 recipient of the OPC’s Carl Spielvogel Award for “best international reporting in broadcast media showing concern for the human condition.” Produced for the Discovery Times Channel with his brother Craig, a frequent collaborator, the piece told the story of American soldiers on the frontlines during the Iraq war. “This series made the war immediate and real in a stark, unembellished, powerful way,” judges wrote in their description.

“As the deaths of Brent Renaud, Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra Kuvshynova show, it’s not just a cliché when we say journalists put their lives on the line so that the rest of the world can stay informed,” said OPC President Paula Dwyer. “We owe a debt of gratitude to them and the many other journalists — foreign and domestic — in Ukraine reporting on the atrocities of this war.”

Renaud was nominated for an Emmy for “Meth Storm,” a 2017 HBO documentary on drug addiction in New York City. He received a Peabody for a 2015 Vice TV report on a Chicago public school, “Last Chance High.” He was a 2018-2019 Nieman fellow at Harvard University and a Dupont award winner.

In 2005, Renaud and his brother were interviewed about their work in Iraq by Ira Glass for public radio’s “This American Life.” Their films are collected on their website, Renaudbrothers.com.

Renaud grew up in Little Rock, Ark. In a statement, Gov. Asa Hutchison noted Renaud’s contributions to Arkansas culture and arts. “My heart is heavy,” Hutchison said. “He lost his life while covering the pure evil that is the invasion of Ukraine.”