May 15, 2022

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Clarissa Ward describes the challenges of covering the conflict in Ukraine

Clarissa Ward describes the challenges of covering the conflict in Ukraine

Ukraine’s Far Eastern region includes breakaway pro-Russian breakaway republics, and residents there have been describing scenes of massacre from shells allegedly fired by the Ukrainian military.

But proving bombing is much more difficult. “We haven’t seen anything to support that in any way,” Ward said of efforts to verify these reports.

On Friday, Ward watched a video clip from a separatist leader claiming there would be an imminent attack by the Ukrainian military and it included footage of evacuees’ buses.

But when CNN staff studied the metadata on the video, they realized that it had already been recorded earlier in the week.

“The fact that it was prerecorded and then released at a specific time really does suggest that there’s some kind of premeditated plot here,” Ward told CNN media reporter Brian Stelter on Sunday’s Trusted Sources show. Ward added that similar scenes are likely to be manufactured on Russian television, including footage of elderly women crying as they flee separatist areas.

Some glimpses of what is really happening in the region can be obtained through social media – including TikTok videos. But journalists are trained not to take any narrative at face value.

“At present, we have to use many different tools to do this verification process,” Ward said. “All of this makes the task a little more complicated.”

CNN team escorts Ukraine’s Interior Minister I was bombarded with mortar shells yesterday. Ward said they were able to collect videos and then were quickly evacuated by the Ukrainian military.
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“What you’re seeing in the last few days … a big escalation, a huge escalation,” Ward said. “Especially when you see shells falling on civilian buildings.”

Is the news media rooting for war?

Stelter noted that many critics on Twitter and other platforms argue that the media is in favor of the war.

CNN media analyst David Zurawick said the accusation was “infuriating,” especially as he saw reporters covering the conflict from the front lines.

“War is not a huge financial driver, at least in the television industry,” Zurawick said. “Many sponsors don’t want to display their wares during the war.”