Three weekends ago I was invited by Vladimir Berezin, a local environmental journalist and editor of Konstantinovka’s Province Newspaper, to speak to other regional journalists about the importance of incorporating digital storytelling and social media into their work, as well as environmental journalism in America.
The group of about 15, comprised of journalists from Konstantinovka, Kramatorsk, Donetsk, Makeevka, Dobrpolya and other cities, were a great audience, listening attentively as I spoke about writing for the web and utilizing Twitter. And they hung in there with me when I started in with what little I knew about environmental journalism, which really amounted to what I deemed to be some of the biggest stories of the past few years and how they were covered.
It got interesting during the second hour of my time there. After opening the floor up to questions, we began discussing how best to cover the many environmental issues facing the region – trash, mine waste, water contamination.
Of course, it’s impossible to discuss such a thing without also bringing politics into the mix, since everything here seems to be intertwined. And so another thirty minutes or so was spent talking about media rights in Ukraine, which took a big hit in January when the Constitutional Court of Ukraine passed a law banning the disclosure of information about public officials without their consent, and the government’s crackdown on free speech.
Anyway, I met a lot of good people that day who do good work and who are genuinely interested in making a difference in their community. Working as a journalist here – at any level – isn’t easy. I hope what I had to say inspired them to continue their work.