NEW YORK, Dec. 2, 2022—The Overseas Press Club of America (OPC) announced today that it has begun distributing 18 grants of $2,000 each to journalists who are struggling to continue their essential work under dire conditions in Ukraine. Sony Electronics Inc. kickstarted the fund with a $25,000 donation. OPC members and friends also contributed.
The club sought help from press clubs in Ukraine to reach journalists who work for independent or regional news organizations. State-owned media in Ukraine were not considered because they are receiving financial help from the European Union and other sources. The OPC grant recipients ranged in age from 23 to 67. Seven are women. More than 100 Ukrainian journalists applied for the grants, which shows the need is great.
“We’re thrilled and honored to able to provide help for our colleagues in Ukraine, who are working under difficult and dangerous conditions to report every day on a story of global importance,” said Scott Kraft, the OPC’s president. “All of us at the OPC deeply admire the dedication and courage of these journalists, and we encourage other journalism organizations to follow our lead.”
Many grant recipients said they would use the OPC funds to buy equipment such as laptops, portable chargers, generators and power banks. “Even those journalists who do not directly cover the fighting or who are not in the combat zone face enormous challenges as a result of the targeted destruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure by Russian missile strikes,” said Vitaly Atanasov, a freelance journalist based in Kyiv who received a grant. “The absence of electricity, mobile communications and the Internet for many hours, and sometimes for several days, really complicates the work of media professionals.”
Two journalists from Donbas Online, a regional TV and radio company in the Lukhansk region of eastern Ukraine, were forced to evacuate early in the war due to massive shelling. Alina Kravchenko moved to Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine, and in October started working remotely for the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine on the project “Journalists are Important”, which tells the stories of Ukrainian journalists who suffered because of the war. She was not able to bring any equipment with her when she left home and plans to spend her grant on a new laptop and charging equipment. “This grant is very important for me,” Kravchenko said. “I lost almost everything I had, my home, contact with my relatives who are now under occupation, but I still have my favorite job.“
Her colleague from Donbas Online, Oleksiy Rokhman, also fled west to Ivano-Frankivsk after missile strikes hit close to his home. “I have no chance to return because Ukrainian journalists in the occupied territories face either prison or execution.” Rokhman has not been able to find a full-time job with a local news organization. He is now working freelance and will use the grant to buy video equipment. ‘There are a lot of stories of people who suffered from the war and the world needs to see and hear them,” he said.
Grant recipients from two newspapers in Odessa, Vechernyaya Odessa and Vash Interes, reported that they continue to publish despite problems with electricity and communications. “Since the beginning of the war, none of the members of the Vechernyaya Odessa team has left the city,” said editor Oleg Suslov. “We continue to keep up the information front, providing the necessary information to both residents of the region and refugees, of whom there are already more than 70 thousand people in our region.”
Another grantee is Gleb Golovchenko, president of the Ukrainian Press Clubs Association, who has devoted his energies and his career to sustaining the operations of a vibrant free press amid the chaos of this war.
A panel of seven judges from the OPC board of governors reviewed the applications and used a numerical scoring system to pick the recipients.
CONTACT: Patricia Kranz, OPC executive director, email@example.com