By Savit Vit

War is a word that, for me, had always been associated with something tragically distant, forgotten, and unacceptable in the modern world. In my job, I often had to read and write about war. About a war that was once upon a time or somewhere very far away. And each time I wrote about it, I kept thinking about how people managed to live during the war. How they started families. Living in the modern capital of Ukraine, I could not even imagine that I would soon find myself in the center of a war.

Emotions changed at lightning speed: horror, panic, anger, rage, despair.

On that gloomy morning on February 24th, when at 5 a.m. they called me with the words that the war had begun, I was sure that this was some ridiculous joke. But the caller’s voice was so panicked that I quickly realized that the most terrible thing, which we all tried not to think about for eight years, had begun. For the psyche, it was like a contrast shower. Emotions changed at lightning speed: horror, panic, anger, rage, despair. But pulling myself together, logic and a rational approach turned on. The priority was to find a safe place for the family. The basement became a makeshift bomb shelter. Then came the agonizing hours of waiting for the bombing. With each shot, the child shuddered but, to my great surprise, did not start a tantrum.

Over the first days, the conditions were terrible. People slept on bags on a cold concrete floor in the dirt dust. But a person, as you know, gets used to everything. Life in the basement began to be improved by joint efforts. People pulled in styrofoam and insulation for impromptu “super luxury” beds. They delivered water and food supplies to the basement. Some daredevils even sometimes began to go home, and after the next volley, everyone again gathered in the basement. The atmosphere there was friendly and calming. As you know, trouble brings people together very quickly. Everyone rallied into a single friendly team and tried to support each other. Children played games that would hardly ever interest them in peacetime when everything was in abundance. Adults spent time looking for food supplies and other items for survival in the war conditions—even ordinary food acquired some exceptional taste.

Verification and analysis of information are more crucial than ever.

Everyone in the bomb shelter tried to find news from various sources. At first, the most difficult thing was to find reliable information. There were a lot of fakes and misinformation in the media. As a person who has been working in the media for over 20 years, I am used to believing only the information confirmed by several authoritative publications, then analyzed and verified again. In the modern world, information has been a potent war tool; and the enemy is actively using it. That is why the verification and analysis of information are more crucial than ever. Unfortunately, not all media, in pursuit of the speed of publication, devote enough time to check it.

Incorrectly served information can lead to a society-wide depression. In turn, this can lead to defeat.

But truthfulness is not the only important thing. Properly presented information can raise the morale of the population and help maintain the mental health of the entire country. And vice versa: incorrectly served information can lead to a society-wide depression. In turn, this can lead to defeat. This means the context and form – in what proportions the news comes and what message it contains – are vital too. That is why it is essential to ensure not only that the information is accurate; it also must not be overloaded with negativity. Even the most tragic story should always contain material that will cheer the viewers, listeners, or readers up and make them confident that everything will be okay in the end.

International media play a huge role. The awareness and support of Ukraine by the entire democratic world depends on them. As a result, the country receives assistance, both physical and moral. But journalists pay a very high price for it. Recently, two foreign journalists came under fire in the fierce battles in Irpen. Despite wearing special body armor and helmets with the press inscription, one was hit in the head by a bullet and died; the second was taken to the hospital with injuries. Despite the growing number of similar documented attacks, foreign journalists continue to come to Ukraine. Thanks to this publicity, Ukrainians feel that they are not alone in this bloody war, that the whole world supports them, and this gives them strength.

The awareness and support of Ukraine by the entire democratic world depends on international media. But journalists pay a very high price for their work.

Looking at all the destruction, pain, fear, and despair often creep into the soul. But when you look at how people, even in the most challenging situation, find an opportunity to joke and smile when they exchange posts on Facebook, read optimistic articles, or simply stay up to date, you understand that in many respects, this is the merit of us – the media.

The author is a Ukrainian journalist who wished to publish the article using a pseudonym.

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