This undated image courtesy of Fox News shows (from L) cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, Trey Yingst and Ukrainian journalist Oleksandra "Sasha" Kuvshynova reporting in Ukraine. Zakrzewski and Kuvshynova were killed in Ukraine outside Kyiv Image Credit: Fox News/AFP

Deaths of two journalists reporting near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv this week is yet another dark reminder of the enormous toll that the Russia-Ukraine conflict is exacting on media.

The latest attack left two Fox News network journalists dead and its correspondent severely injured. Killed in the attack were Pierre Zakrzewski, a 55-year-old longtime war photojournalist, and Oleksandra ‘Sasha’ Kuvshynova, a 24-year-old Ukrainian journalist working as a consultant for the network. Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall was seriously injured in the attack and remains hospitalised.

After the Ukraine crisis started on February 24, 2022, journalists covering the conflict have been in the line of fire — facing both rocket attack and gunfire.

The deaths of journalists come on the heels of another attack on media in which Brent Renaud, an award-winning filmmaker and journalist, was killed while reporting in a suburb of Kyiv.

In recent weeks, a Ukrainian camera operator was killed when a TV tower came under heavy shelling. There was also an incident of firing on journalists from Sky News last week.

Safeguarding reporters

With journalists working in Ukraine finding themselves coming under increased fire, media organisations and newspapers have put out urgent appeals, calling for safeguarding reporters.

“At this extremely dangerous moment, we call on all parties to this escalating conflict to do everything in their power to prioritise the safety of journalists and respect the role of the press,” Vincent Peyrègne, CEO, World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) said in a statement.

On its part, media, especially news media, covering the conflict must fall back on the highest professional standards as they report on the Ukraine crisis.

Media is providing an invaluable service through their coverage in Ukraine and journalists are playing a very crucial role. International press must be afforded every protection to carry out their essential role and any efforts to disrupt the free-flow of information is unacceptable.

Journalists are civilians and as such should be treated as non-combatants.

As the conflict in Ukraine unfolds further, authorities from both sides must take note of their obligations to take maximum precautions while launching any military action.

The ongoing crisis presents an enormous risk for journalists. Both Russia and Ukraine must ensure that journalists in the conflict zone are protected and their right to freedom of expression is respected.