Ukrainian journalist Veronika Melkozerova will deliver Carleton University’s upcoming Peter Stursberg Foreign Correspondent’s Lecture on the topic of covering conflict in your own society.

The virtual event will be held online at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024 via Zoom webinar. Please book tickets online to get access to the Zoom link.

Since its launch in 2017, the annual Peter Stursberg lecture, named in honour of the legendary Second World War correspondent, has explored the work of foreign correspondents and their coverage of conflict.

In a departure, Melkozerova will be the first correspondent to talk about the experience of covering a conflict at home, in your own country. Melkozerova is based in Kyiv where she has been covering Ukraine as a reporter for Politico Europe since December 2022. But she’s been writing about Ukraine for foreign audiences since 2014.

Melkozerova’s lecture – Conflicted: a Ukrainian journalist covers her country at war – will be delivered at an event moderated by Nahlah Ayed, host of CBC Radio’s Idea.

Melkozerova has been writing about Ukraine for foreign audiences since 2014, when Euromaidan protests ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych. Soon after the revolution ended, Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and started its hybrid invasion of Ukraine in Donbas, accompanied by waves of propaganda and covert operations against Ukraine.

In addition to documenting her country at war, Melkozerova has written movingly about the inner conflict many Ukrainian journalists face.

“We face a continual tension between holding the government to account, and not wanting the enemy to undermine us by exploiting bad news,” Melkozerova wrote in a January opinion piece for Politico, laying bare how ‘conflicted’ many Ukrainian journalists feel.
“A journalist is meant to stay a little distant from the situation he or she covers. It helps to stay impartial and to stick to the facts, not emotions. But what if staying impartial is impossible as you have to cover the invasion of your own country?” she wrote.

“Naturally, you have to keep holding your government to account, but you are also painfully aware that the enemy is out there looking to exploit any opportunity to erode faith in the leadership and undermine national security. That is exactly what Ukrainian journalists have to deal with every day.”

Melkozerova has never presented herself as a war correspondent and reported from frontline towns only twice. But in 2022, the whole of Ukraine turned into a war zone as Russia started its full-scale invasion of the country.
Melkozerova remained in Kyiv throughout the Russian siege of the Ukrainian capital from February to April last year. She witnessed her city’s transformation under siege and covered it for many Western media, including The Atlantic, NBC News, and Times Radio London. After the Russians left Kyiv, Veronika continued to cover the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In September of 2022, she visited New York and spent three months there, covering events of the 77th United Nations General Assembly as a participant in the Dag Hammarskjöld Fund for Journalists internship program. But when the program ended, she returned to report from her beloved Kyiv.

The annual Stursberg lecture, now in its seventh year, was created in honour of legendary Canadian war correspondent Peter Stursberg, who pioneered radio coverage of the Second World War for the CBC. Notably, Stursberg and other war correspondents of that era, spoke of the same type of inner conflict Melkozerova has described, a sense that they were expected to support the war effort through their reporting.

Stursberg passed away at the age of 101 in 2014, and his children Judith Lawrie and Richard Stursberg endowed the annual talk in his honour. The Stursberg lecture is one of two initiatives created by the family within Carleton’s journalism program to honour their father. The other is the Peter Stursberg Award in Conflict Journalism and Media Studies. This award was intended to help a student in Carleton’s Master of Journalism program complete a thesis or journalism project on a subject related to human conflict, the media and conflict studies, or conflict resolution, reconciliation or reconstruction.

This award has supported some wonderful journalism projects so far. The 2023 recipient is MJ student Farida Nekzad, an Afghan journalist who is completing a major study on the impact of the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan on women journalists in the country.

Over the years, the Stursberg lecture has featured some incredible correspondents: Lyse Doucet, Janine de Giovanni, Adrienne Arsenault, Larry Madowo and Nima Elbagir. Last year, we heard from Giancarlo Fiorella, senior investigator for Bellingcat.

The Stursberg is one of the journalism program’s most important annual events and Ukrainian journalist Veronika Melkozerova will add another fine instalment to this lecture series.

Monday, January 8, 2024 in , ,
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