Progressive philanthropy ‘not prioritising’ Ukraine’s media recovery, journalists warn


Shafi Musaddique


Philanthropists from Ukraine’s international allies ‘are not prioritising’ the recovery of Ukraine’s broken media scene, according to an open letter penned by Ukrainian journalists, media professionals and civic society. 

The open letter, signed by 121 representatives, calls for more donors to assist media recovery, with Ukraine’s media organisations struggling with ‘financial issues, lack of staff, and ongoing psychological stress’. 

‘Many countries and donors are involved in Ukraine’s recovery efforts, but unfortunately, the media itself is not included in these programs. International donors view the media primarily as a means to share information about reconstruction rather than recognising it as a sector in desperate need of assistance. Regional media may face extinction in just a few years if this concerning trend persists,’ said the letter, signed by Ukrainian media representatives. 

Berlin hosts the Ukraine Recovery Conference on June 11th and 12, where Ukrainian journalists have urged donors to talk about ‘the topic of supporting and restoring local media in Ukraine.’ 

Joanna Krawczyk, deputy director of the German Marshall Fund, voiced her worries that funders had lost interest in the region. 

‘Since the inaugural Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, I’ve observed a troubling oversight: the marginalisation of media voices in the discourse surrounding Ukraine’s reconstruction, with scant attention paid to media rebuilt and transformation concerns on the agenda,’ she wrote on social media platform LinkedIn, adding:  

‘Despite two years having elapsed, progress has been minimal at best. It’s high time for a shift.’ 

The German Marshall Fund is a non profit funded by both public and private bodies, with large donors such as the Open Society Foundations and Rockefeller Foundation listed as donors providing more than $1 million 2023.  

So far, 230 media outlets have been shut down with some forced to relocate since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.  

Beyond Ukraine, progressive philanthropists have ignored the funding media. In his latest Critical Friend column, Alliance executive editor Charles Keidan says ‘European funders are not supporting media at anything like the scale which is needed’.

By contrast, a new media fund powered by some of the biggest funders in the US has been established to regenerate local media in the US.

‘It’s therefore time for European philanthropy to change gears,  or ideally two gears, when it comes to funding quality media’, added our executive editor.

‘That’s not to say that money alone will solve the problem. Careful attention, more so than in arguably any other field of philanthropy, is required to develop good funding practice. Ideally, that means longer term unrestricted and arm’s length support. That’s crucial to preserve independence and ensure that media titles are emboldened to hold elites to account including philanthropic elites who might fund them.’

Shafi Musaddique is the news editor at Alliance Magazine 

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