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Reuters Ukraine coverage drives record usage

Reuters extensive on the ground coverage from Ukraine has seen record-breaking use of its pictures and video content by publishers and TV stations around the world.

Its biggest month for video content was last month with more than 4.5 million uses on TV across the world.


The previous records were 3.6 million in the previous month when Russia began its invasion of Ukraine and the same number in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world.


The first day of the invasion saw the highest number of downloads of Reuters pictures in a single day while social media video views for Reuters content were at one of its highest levels for a running story.


Fifty Reuters clients collectively saw 2.84 billion video views on their social channels from its Ukraine content in the first three months of the year. In March alone Reuters content saw about one billion social media video views.


The Reuters website saw user traffic up 30 per cent month-on-month in March, which came after an already remarkable month as February saw the onset of war.


Reuters has had dozens of staff at any one time on the ground in Ukraine since the invasion began, including journalists, security staff, translators and drivers - a “very big operation to coordinate” said Simon Robinson (photo), global managing director of news publishing.


He told Press Gazette he had heard of concerns in some circles that “media outlets look only at Ukraine or at a war in Europe”, giving less attention to other global conflicts and struggles - for example to Afghanistan, where the Taliban is continuing to tighten its control on elements of what used to be normal life.


UN secretary general António Guterres said last month there was “clear evidence” the Ukraine conflict was “draining resources and attention from other trouble-spots in desperate need”.


Robinson said Reuters would ensure it continues to cover pressing stories from elsewhere around the globe.


“I think there’s rightly a lot of awareness in journalistic circles that, well, you know, there’s so much attention on Ukraine but what about other places in the world like Yemen, like Ethiopia and we’ll certainly stay focused on Ethiopia as well,” he said.


“We have different kinds of stories in the works there… I know that we cover lots of different parts of the world and we are very conscious of making sure that our coverage all remains global.”


Reuters has decades of experience operating in conflict zones and has therefore built up a “very strong safety and security apparatus,” Robinson said. There are in particular three people who coordinate the safety side of things, including an editor and a recent hire who is both a former British Army soldier and photographer.


Robinson said: “That’s all very well and good in a theoretical way, you make all the preparations that you can and then of course when something like this happens it’s just a question of making sure that we make all the right decisions as we go along… we’re obviously informed by the coverage that we want to do but we’re making decisions based on the facts on the ground in terms of security as well.


“So I think that it’s always challenging, but I do think that we at least have the best structure and set up in place to handle a situation like this.”


At least seven journalists have been killed while working in Ukraine, including Maks Levin, a Ukrainian photojournalist who had been a regular contributor for Reuters since 2013.


Robinson described Levin as an “incredibly brave” photographer who had done a huge amount of work for Reuters in the Donbas region of Ukraine where war began in 2014.


“He had documented in an incredible way actually what had been happening to his country over the last, kind of, nearly decade,” Robinson said. “So everyone here is really, really sad about the loss of Maks. It’s a big loss to the world of journalism, definitely.”


There have been no other specific incidents in which Reuters journalists were put in immediate danger so far in the Ukraine war, although Robinson said the most worrying period was when it looked like Kyiv may be put under siege with people unable to enter or leave. He said: “We were definitely very focused on making decisions that would protect our people.”


Russia has introduced a law criminalising the dissemination of “false information” about the Russian military with up to 15 years in prison. Numerous foreign outlets suspended reporting from Russia to protect their journalists but Reuters continues to have a presence in the country.


Robinson said: “The safety of our staff is paramount and we will continue to cover Russia in a robust and accurate and comprehensive way. Which is only right, but yes, operating in Russia at the moment is challenging.” ■

Press Gazette