The New York Times pulls journalists from Russia amid media crackdown
The Washington Post March 8, 2022
The New York Times on Tuesday became the first major American news organization to announce it will pull staff out of Russia in response to the country’s increasing crackdown on journalism, including a new law against “fake” news that threatens those who accurately refer to the invasion of Ukraine as an “invasion” — rather than a “special military operation” — with a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
“For the safety and security of our editorial staff working in the region, we are moving them out of the country for now,” Nicole Taylor, spokeswoman for the Times, told The Washington Post. “We look forward to them returning as soon as possible while we monitor the application of the new law.”
She added that the Times “will continue our live, robust coverage of the war, and our rigorous reporting on Russia’s offensive in Ukraine and these attempts to stifle independent journalism.”
Meanwhile, the BBC took a step in the opposite direction, saying Tuesday it would resume reporting from Russia after a four-day hiatus.The BBC was one of several media organizations that announced Friday they would cease reporting and broadcasting from the country, or in the country, but no others have yet said they will remove all editorial personnel.
Bloomberg News editor in chief John Micklethwait said the global news organization would “temporarily suspend our newsgathering inside Russia,” arguing that changes to the criminal code in the country “makes it impossible to continue any semblance of normal journalism inside the country.” He said that Bloomberg News “will obviously continue to support our staff in the country, even if for now they can no longer do their jobs there.” (The news organization has 27 reporters, editors and translators based in Russia.)
Major American television news networks have largely stopped broadcasting from the country, and CNN said on Friday that its programming would not be visible in the country, so as to protect the network and its employees — though the network did not announce plans to evacuate personnel from the country.
A spokesperson for ABC News said on Friday that the network “will continue to assess the situation and determine what this means for the safety of our teams on the ground,” beyond deciding not to broadcast from the country.
A Washington Post spokeswoman, Shani George, said on Saturday that the newspaper is “continuing to seek clarity about whether Russia’s new restrictions will apply to international news organizations,” though in the meantime it is removing bylines and datelines from specific stories as a means of protecting Russia-based contributors. “We want to be sure that our Moscow-based correspondents are not held responsible for material that is produced from beyond Russia,” she added.
Independent media outlets in Russia have also been crushed by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown, with many reporters fleeing the country.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has implored Russian officials to allow local and international media outlets to operate freely. “The Russian public cannot be deprived of information and news and be forced to rely on the Kremlin-approved interpretation of events at this very important time in Russian history,” Gulnoza Said, the committee’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, said in a statement late last week. “The censorship must stop, and bans must be lifted.”
The BBC issued a statement Tuesday saying that it would resume broadcasting from Russia again later in the day. “We will tell this crucial part of the story independently and impartially, adhering to the BBC’s strict editorial standards,” the statement said. “The safety of our staff in Russia remains our number one priority.”