„You can’t be productive in the bomb shelter“

3 min readApr 1, 2022

Daryna Shevchenko about the rise of The Kyiv Independent during wartime

Interview: Helen Krueger-Janson

Daryna Shevchenko runs The Kyiv Independent while fleeing the bombed capital. The online medium is known worldwide, yet it has only been around for four months. To Medieninsider, the CEO explains how journalism works during wartime.

The first ten days of the war in Ukraine, Shevchenko (photo) stayed in Kyiv. But the bombs came closer and closer. Now she is sitting four hours west of the Ukrainian capital with her dog. From there, she runs the young online medium, which she finances through donations. Her editorial team also continues working: from the front line and the bomb shelter.

Medieninsider: Ms Shevchenko, how has the war changed The Kyiv Independent?

Daryna Shevchenko: We started in November 2021 and went live with the website in December. At that time, we were operating as a start-up and testing a lot of things. In February we moved into our office in a central district of Kyiv. We celebrated our housewarming party with the team and other journalists a week before the war. Overnight we had to change our approach: Now we report around the clock. We are no longer a start-up, we’ve become the medium of Ukraine.

Were your employees prepared for that?

They’re not beginners. Many staff members came from the Kyiv Post before it was shut down in November*. It’s not like we hired students out of school. We had to switch to 24-hour reporting, working from the front line and online. There are 24 colleagues on my last payroll and we have about 25 volunteers. Some of our foreign staff have fled home because their governments evacuated them. The rest of us are spread across Kyiv, central Ukraine and the western part of the country. Some are working less at the moment because they have to take care of their families, have no access to the internet or spend most of their time in the bomb shelter. But no employee has stopped working for us because of the war.

How did the war change your personal responsibilities?

Before the war, I was very busy with commercial development, talking to advertisers, selling ads, looking after fundraising partnerships and crowdfunding. Or developing our audience I’m in touch with a lot. Now I’m doing pretty much the same thing, but focusing even more on the community. I also talked to many donors and partners who wanted to help me or other Ukrainian media. Just one day before the war, we launched the crowdfunding campaign. I spent the first ten days of the war in Kyiv, the CEO job was tough. We were overwhelmed and understaffed with all the ongoing tension. I used to be a reporter, so I joined my editorial team. But in my district in Kyiv, there was a lot of heavy fighting, a lot of explosions and constant air strike alerts. So I decided to relocate to western Ukraine.

All your employees continue to report. How does it work?


Read the full interview at Medieninsider.com




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