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Ukraine war: Al Jazeera writer celebrates media propaganda

As Western media’s coverage of this European war demonstrated, terms like ‘invasion’, ‘unprovoked aggression’ and ‘resistance’ can and should be used in conflict reporting when they describe what is actually happening.

Zahera Harb Leader of International Journalism Studies Cluster at City, University of London

Published On 9 Mar 2022

Since the very first Russian troops made their way into Ukraine in the early hours of February 24, the Anglo-American coverage of Europe’s latest war has been full of emotion and patriotic sentiment. Western correspondents on the ground in Ukraine and in newsrooms across Europe and America not only demonstrated high levels of empathy for Ukrainian civilians suffering from Russia’s unprovoked aggression, but also significant sympathy for those taking up arms to protect their country against the invader.

Read Ukraine Russia: Beware The False Flags

Watching British and American journalists cover this brutal conflict not with the blind objectivity that became the point of pride of Western journalism in modern times, but instead using terminology that conveys the humanity and grave reality of the situation on the ground accurately, has been eye-opening, to say the least.

For the first few days of the invasion, screens and papers were dominated by stories underlining the bravery and steadfastness everyday Ukrainians demonstrated in the face of an all-out invasion. Gradually the term “resistance” started to be routinely used to describe Ukrainian troops and volunteers who took up arms to defend their homeland. Western channels and websites broadcast President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s calls for all Ukrainians – at home and abroad – to come and join the fight, and pleas for military assistance from friendly nations, without censor or critical commentary. In news reports, Russia’s so-called “special operation” has repeatedly – and accurately – been described as an “invasion”,  “assault” and “unprovoked aggression”. The Russian military has been condemned for “deliberately targeting civilians” and “shelling residential areas”. No weight at all was given to Russia’s baseless claims that “civilians were being used as shields”.

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As an Al Jazeera journalist who covered conflict, I support the use of these terms and terminologies in the coverage of the war in Ukraine. I have long argued for journalists using language that accurately conveys the truth of a situation evolving before their eyes – language that is not restricted by a desire to be “objective”, “balanced” and “unbiased” even in the face of imperial aggression, unprovoked military assault, invasion or war crimes.

Ukraine war: Is impartiality always key to quality journalism?  Al Jazeera English

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