In moments of crisis, information is vital for civilians. How do journalists react and respond in newsrooms when their own nations or neighbours find themselves in crisis? How do organisations fact check sources to make sure that what they’re reporting is correct?
Reflecting on some of the language used in articles and reports, Dovile Javinskaitė (Head of LRT Radio newsroom at LRT) argues that this is not a ‘conflict’ but a war and that also means it’s a war for information. Dovile is keen to cover it as much as LRT (Lithuanian National Radio and Television) can because if citizens aren’t finding information from LRT stations and channels, there’s a chance they’re getting the information from propaganda channels instead.
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, LRT laid on multilingual discussions, 30 special programmes for television, two podcasts on defence topics, and supported teams with psychologists, special equipment like helmets and bulletproof vests, and have divided teams on the off-chance that war breaks out in Lithuania.
Russian propaganda does a good job at scaring reporters, says Fredrik Wadström (Journalist at Swedish Radio). That’s something he witnessed in 2014 and later in 2018 as he shows a sign from that area with the words ‘Putin, Ukraine will be your grave’ scrawled on it. The present story of conflict in Ukraine has been running for much longer than a few months.
In war, one of the first victims is truth. The work of Kayleen Devlin (Journalist at BBC Monitoring) is to work out which party is telling the truth.
The BBC’s disinformation team asks two questions: Are the events genuine, and who is accountable? Using freely available tools like Google Image Reverse Search, Kayleen is able to find out when something’s posted online. Using tools like Google Earth, researchers are able to correlate locations to purported video evidence and eyewitness accounts and expert testimony also help build a picture of what’s happening in the field.
Whilst all of this work behind-the-scenes is very important, radio producers shouldn’t assume all outlets are following the same rules. That’s also why, as a public service broadcaster, the BBC attempt to educate consumers on how to spot ‘fake news’ themselves.