One year since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, networks continue to rotate reporters in and out of the country. Media outlets reassess security precautions as the nature of the battle changes. Correspondents are preparing for the possibility of an even longer and more brutal war, perhaps with even more risks and uncertainties.

And while some recent polls have shown softening support for U.S. aid to Ukraine, news executives insist that viewership interest is still strong, with plans to continue a significant presence there.

“It matters domestically, it matters internationally and we are determined to maintain our commitment for as long as it takes,” CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht said via email. “This is the kind of story CNN was built to cover.”

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel said that “everything over time diminishes because it is not as new. So inevitably, if this war is still going on a year from now, we might not be talking about it as much.”

But there’s also the possibility of the nature of the conflict changing dramatically.

“We could have a Cuban missile-style nuclear crisis. China could intervene in a major way supplying weapons to Ukraine. The Ukrainians are talking about launching a new counter-offensive to break up the Russian front line,” Engel said. “I don’t think people are going to lose interest because it is so important. It is so dynamic. Russia launched the largest ground invasion since World War II. If you’re not interested in that, then I don’t know what you’re interested in.” 

Another correspondent who has been reporting from the country, CBS News’ Holly Williams, said, “The danger with long-running conflicts is that sometimes there is fatigue that sets in and people feel like they know the story, and they don’t need to hear about it anymore. But I don’t think I have seen that yet with Ukraine.”

The level of U.S. coverage of the war and all of its facets has been of particular interest to U.S. lawmakers who have worried that waning viewership interest would impact support for continued aid to Ukraine. According to a recent AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, support for providing weapons and direct economic aid has dropped bit since last May. Another poll reflected the divisions among Republicans, as new House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had said there would be no “blank check” for Ukraine if his party won the majority.

“We’re definitely mindful of it. It’s part of the coverage,” said Katie den Daas, ABC News’ London bureau chief. “But I think there’s a difference between people wanting to use taxpayer dollars to support Ukraine, and people wanting to know what’s going on in Ukraine. I think those are two very different things. And what we see is continued interest and continued engagement.”

Moreover, correspondents say their jobs are not to be advocates for such aid, but they do express a goal of showing why the war is relevant to the American public, a challenge that is true of just about any international conflict. 

“I’m just here to tell the stories of what’s going on. And I think people do want to know, and if they don’t want to know, they should,” Engel said.


The Ukraine-Russia story does not dominate coverage like it did in the first months of the war. Broadcast networks’ nightly newscasts devoted 346 minutes last February and 562 minutes in March, compared to 34 minutes in December and 40 minutes in January, according to Andrew Tyndall, an analyst of news coverage. But he notes that the figures understate coverage in that they don’t account for related stories like NATO planning, Zelensky-Biden diplomacy and internal Russian politics. The Ukraine war, he noted, has never been out of the top 10 most heavily covered stories each month. Networks have spent millions in their investment in covering the different facets of the war across the country.

Greg Headen, vice president of news coverage at Fox News, said, “It is an important story, and Fox is committed to telling the story. Granted, you have folks that are thousands of miles away, our viewers. So why is it important to them? Well, it is important because we are watching in real time a country that never asked for war being completely pummeled. We have interviewed Zelensky. We have seen the mass graves. We report daily on the utter destruction, the human suffering. It’s important to tell the story.”

Network executives say that the biggest concern remains security of its correspondents and personnel. The initial weeks of the war, when Russian troops were about 20 miles from Kyiv, proved to be an especially fraught time, as crews scrambled to cover the advance. In March, Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski and Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, who was working as a freelance consultant for the network, were killed when the crew vehicle was struck by incoming fire near Kyiv. Correspondent Benjamin Hall was severely injured; he lost one leg and both feet, his sight in one eye and the use of one of his hands. He’s publishing a book about his experiences next month.

Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, said, “I do think it’s natural that there comes a moment where … public attention is not as uniformly galvanized as it once was. And that’s a big part of where journalism comes in because our job is to ensure that as long as this tragedy is playing out every day, and as long as this illegal war continues, that we keep telling the story of the people who are living through it and keep holding those who are in power accountable.” 

Licht said that Ukraine-related coverage is typically among the most engaged stories on CNN Digital platforms, and the top piece last year was the live story written on the first day of the invasion. He said that the TV coverage continues to perform well in the 25-54 demographic. At the peak, CNN had 120 people in the region; it currently has 35 people on the ground. They have five teams in the country for the anniversary week, but have at least two teams since the war started.

CNN’s demand for Ukraine stories, Ward said, is “almost to the point where I wish I could get a little bit more sleep.” She added, “That’s not just because CNN likes this story or cares about it or thinks it’s important. That’s also because it does resonate with viewers, and viewers care about it and viewers think it’s important.”

Ward is presenting a special on Sunday, CNN Special Report: The Will to Win: Ukraine at War, in which she revisits places like Kharkiv, near the Russian border and where she was when the invasion started. “I really wanted to profile ordinary Ukrainians who really are the kind of secret sauce, if you will, to why Ukraine has come as far as it has against the odds,” she said.

In the year since the war started, Ward said that the security situation has changed for journalists. In the early weeks of the war, as Russia began its onslaught and its troopers were on the outskirts of Kyiv, a number of journalists came under fire, and there was not an obvious person to go to for guidance “to try to navigate your way through that fog in order to do your work,” Ward said. 

“I would say that the security situation — it’s not so much that it is better, that it’s clearer,” Ward said. She said that it is “clearer where the front lines are, what the riskiest areas are, how to mitigate some of those risks, which then makes it easier for us, although challenging.” It has been difficult to cover from those areas under relentless bombardment “without taking risks that become extremely high and more and more difficult to mitigate and contend with.” 

Ward said that another challenge is to look for fresh angles and news “where you can keep the story moving, if you will,” and not fall into a lull. That may be especially the case if the war continues in a kind of stalemate, with no considerable gains on either side. She said, “As you continue to tell a story, and we are entering the second year, I think it does require more consideration and perspectives to think about, ‘What’re the really important story going forward and how do we get at that?” 

What can be difficult to convey to viewers is what is happening in the capital, Kyiv, where, despite the continued threat of missile strikes that is evident from air raid sirens, “the city is buzzing. There are art exhibitions. The ballet is on.

“We tend to sometimes have this idea that if there is a war in a country, that means the whole country is being bombed day in and day out. They can’t leave their houses, and they are sort of sitting in bunkers. But what is kind of fascinating about Ukraine — and I think it speaks to the resilience of the Ukrainian people — is that it is a much more complex, nuanced picture than that.”

CBS News’ Williams has a piece for Sunday’s 60 Minutes focusing on Kherson, the port city that was liberated after a period of Russian occupation. She, too, said that one of the challenges has been to show how Ukrainians “try to keep their lives as normal as possible.”

“That in itself is kind of an act of defiance, saying, ‘You are not going to take that away from us. We are not going to be fearful of you 24 hours a day’,” she said.

Still, Williams said that the war was the “most dangerous conflict I have covered,” citing the nature of Russia’s weapons and the relentless bombardment. What can be especially jarring is the contrast between deployments, “coming out of a place where everything is one the line, where people are losing their lives, and then coming back home where it is as if nothing happened.”

She recalled that two days after the invasion started, she and a crew were driving across the country from Kharkiv to Kyiv, and “suddenly territorial defense forces had spring up, seemingly out of nothing, often of local guys, older guys, with their own shotguns, manning points along the road. So there was this immediate sense that Ukraine is not going to allow this to happen.” 

“A lot of people obviously had doubts as to whether the Ukrainians would be able to hold the Russians back from here. They thought that the capital would fall within days. And it’s just been sort of fascinating watching that shift, both inside Ukraine and outside Ukraine, to the point where, when you talk to Ukrainians now, they feel very confident, for the most part, that they are going to win this war.”


Andrew Roy, CBS’s London bureau chief, said that they have had a rotation that happens every three or four weeks, including a correspondent, producer, camera crew and high risk adviser, as well as work with local producers and drivers.

“This is a very different war than the media have covered,” he said. “This is not generally people with small arms shooting at you and you have the risks of kidnapping.” Instead, he said, “you can be 20 meters from the front line and be at risk of artillery fire. The risks have not diminished in any way. It is still dangerous for journalists.”

A challenge is to convey the human side of the story, rather than what reporters go through in the danger zone. One recent CBS News story focused on the effort by Ukrainians to provide psychological support for troops. Interest in the story continues to be strong, as is shown by social media impressions, Roy noted.

“The stakes are as high as when Putin crossed into Ukraine. For audiences to turn away from the story because they are tired of it would be a massive mistake on their part,” he said.

Rather than pulling back on coverage, a concern may be how to staff up in the event of a major escalation.

“I don’t see us leaving Ukraine any time soon. I don’t see anyone leaving Ukraine any time soon,” Roy said.

MSNBC will present On Assignment with Richard Engel: Ukraine’s Secret Resistance on Friday, in which Engel profiles residents of Kherson who joined the city’s secret underground movement to fight back against Russian occupiers. Engel and the network crew started working on the project as they also covered the city’s continued bombardment by the Russians.

“We went down to Kherson because we heard maybe Ukrainians were going to take the city, and then we were there and went as Ukrainian troops were liberating it and people were celebrating on the streets,” he said. “And then, people came out and tell their stories, and we found all these amazing stories of people who have been under occupation for eight months, and are now suddenly free and able to describe their experiences.”

Engel said that the story of the occupation relates to Americans in part because, as a nation of immigrants, “every one of us has a story like this in our past. You just have to go back and look far enough.”

“Imagine if Washington or some other city is taken over by a foreign government,” he added. “You can do one of three things: You can run away, you can stay and acquiesce and maybe even collaborate, or you can fight. And this was the story of people who decided to stay and fight in the most dangerous kind of circumstances in an occupied city, on their own, civilians who have no training, no background organizing any kind of resistance.”

NBC News’ presence in Ukraine has varied from one to four teams over the past year, but the coverage has been constant.

Engel said that the shift in the battle from the “chaos and panic” of Kyiv and other cities, to one where there is a front line in the east, has created “a totally different war.” Occasionally there are attacks on Kyiv and other cities, he said, but “the vast majority of the conflict is along the front lines.” “Here there is a front line with trenches in between them and both sides are wearing uniforms,” he said. “It feels like you are in a war documentary.”


Kirit Zadia, the director of international news for ABC News, said that the Ukraine coverage has been the biggest commitment that ABC News has made to an international story since the war in Iraq.

“And it is a sign not only that the audience has been there, but just that the stakes are so high.” More than 100 people from the network contributed to coverage inside of Ukraine, he said, including correspondents James Longman and Ian Pannell, who have traveled thousands of miles across the country.

Den Daas, the London bureau chief, said, “I think there is a real threat in conflict reporting that it becomes a numbers game, that we get focused on who has how many tanks and how many guns and how many soldiers — and we cover that and we report that information — but I think our coverage has been focused on people, even from before the war started. And I think when we double down on that, that is where the engagement comes.”

Pannell, for instance, was sent in January to follow up on certain Ukrainians were doing a year later, after profiling them at the start of the conflict.

The network has about two dozen people in the country at any given time. Deployments now run about two to three weeks from the earlier six weeks. Den Daas credits Ukrainian producers for covering the war “without any breaks,” even with the concerns over the safety of their families.

“We’ve had a correspondent, at least one, in Ukraine every day since well before the war started, and we are not going to take our foot off the gas pedal anytime soon,” she said.

She said that she is actually surprised at the level of audience engagement. In the first two weeks, viewers watched 12.5 million hours of war coverage. The death of Queen Elizabeth and her funeral, also lasting about two weeks, was 7.1 million. 

“Our platforms and shows are still very hungry for content. So if they are hungry for content, and they are looking at the numbers and the ratings every day, that tells me the audiences still want to know what is going on. If I had people in Ukraine twiddling their thumbs, saying, ‘Oh my gosh, are we going to make TV today?’ But we don’t. We have the exact opposite problem.”


Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst said that he is in his fifth rotation in Ukraine since the war began, and “we’re still getting on TV. We’re still doing pieces on Special Report. … Certainly every news cycle changes, but I would say there is still an interest in what is happening here.” 

“This certainly has been the most dangerous and the most difficult to navigate, personally and professionally,” he said. “This level of death and destruction just hasn’t been something I have seen as a journalist in my career.”

He points to a visit to Bucha, a suburb near Kyiv, that was the scene of mass executions on the part of the Russians.

“It’s hard to put into words just how bad it was,” he said. “Sometimes I stop myself from describing when people ask me what it’s like because I realized that the things that we’ve seen are things that most have trouble conceptualizing. They are so violent and brutal.”

Fox News’ Headen said the network has has brought in about 20 reporters and 20 producers and photographers in the past year, in addition to security agents, drivers another personnel. They have two teams in the country now, with plans for one reporter on the ground, along with local “fixers,” once the other cycles out.

Security teams shadow reporters at all hours, and they talk to those traveling around the country with other networks as well. The network crews also use armored vehicles, Headen said. “Putin and the Russian army don’t have any qualms about hitting civilian targets. So we have had a plan, we continue to have a plan. We go over those plans. And we feel comfortable with where we are at,” he said.

Yingst said that Ukraine is no different from other conflicts in that the onus is on correspondents to explain to viewers why the war should matter to them. What he has tried to do, he said, is “humanize” the story.

He recalled being in the suburbs of the city last year, and meeting a blind man as the Russians were shelling the street. Yingst and his crew went back two weeks later, after Russians had been repelled from the area, and the man’s house was completely destroyed. They found him in a nearby hospital. A more recent story was speaking to school children, aged 9 and 10, “who are telling us about missiles and drones.” “I think that is the thing I lose sleep over,” he said. 

Like other correspondents, he described having difficulties disconnecting from the story in between deployments there. When he was in Kabul on assignment last year, he found himself texting sources in Kyiv.

“I just remember that we have a job to do. We have a responsibility to be here, informing the world about what is happening on the ground,” he said. “I think most journalists who are here signed up for that. They understand that, but you have to be mentally and physically prepared to cover a story like this.”


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