Ukrainian news startup launched 4 months ago
A scroll through The Kyiv Independent’s website eerily documents the sudden turn in fate for the people of Ukraine. A culture section featuring national opera, contemporary art and film events is now eclipsed by regular updates about “Russia’s war on Ukraine: Where fighting is on now” and social media infographics listing Ukraine’s casualties.
The independent news outlet launched less than four months ago after 30 journalists and editors found themselves abruptly locked out and fired from the Kyiv Post — the longest-standing English language newspaper in Ukraine. Now the publication is covering the front lines of a war while raising nearly $1 million (USD) in reader support.
Shortly after editors published critical coverage of the Ukrainian government, as they’d been known to produce, the owner’s media manager announced she would head new Ukrainian and Russian versions of the publication and hire entirely new editorial staff. The newsroom saw it as an attempt to undermine editorial independence, writes journalist Illia Ponomarenko for the New Statesman. After demanding transparency — the Kyiv Post was temporarily shut down.
The group of journalists swiftly jumped to action with a Patreon campaign for the launch of a new outlet, The Kyiv Independent. A local agency developed the website pro bono and a newsletter and podcast soon followed. “In a time of ongoing Russian aggression and political turmoil in Ukraine, we can’t allow our country to end up without an independent English-language publication that can speak to the world,” they wrote in November.
Importantly, this new outlet would be funded by readers, not a wealthy businessman like the Kyiv Post. “We are not backed by a rich owner or an oligarch,” they wrote. “We want to be closer with our readers and champions than we were at the Kyiv Post.”
Today, they are among a handful of outlets scrambling to report accurate information on Russia’s war in face of physical and cyber attacks and rampant mis/disinformation. To keep up with the need, they launched a GoFundMe campaign, which has surpassed 14,000 donations and raised nearly USD $1 million from the original goal of USD $75,000.
As The Kyiv Independent staff point out on Facebook, they are not alone. “While we are extremely grateful for the support we’ve been getting, we understand that other media outlets in Ukraine have been less lucky. That’s why our partners launched a new global fundraising campaign to help independent Ukrainian media get through this crisis.”
This consortium of European media outlets and NGOs is raising money in support of Ukrainian media like Ukrainska Pravda, Zaborona, Detector Media “aimed at helping media relocate, set-up back offices and continue their operations from neighboring countries.”
How to help
Indiegraf contacted The Kyiv Independent to offer help and made a donation in the network’s name. We know many of you want to help as well. Here’s how you can support: