Racial bias in Ukraine media coverage is unacceptable  


John Brighenti

Patryk Sikora

It is no surprise that several white journalists let their racial biases slip while covering the war in Ukraine. The outrage sparked on social media over these comments is not just another cancel culture trend, but rather a valid criticism of media coverage when covering global conflicts.

The double standard when comparing wars and humanitarian crises is not only unacceptable with journalistic standards of being objective, but also sends a prejudiced message to its viewers that some refugees are more worthy of sympathy than others.

The anger online came after a few clips went viral showing remarks that have been labeled racist, most notably a clip of CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent Charlie D’Agata where he called Ukraine a “relatively civilized” society compared to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another clip from the BBC had former Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor David Sakvarelidze saying the crisis is really emotional for him because he sees European people “with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.”

Other reporters made it clear that the only reason they are so bewildered is because a war is happening in a prosperous European country and “not a developing, Third World nation.”

The serious bias that has been shown so casually by some members of the media is a huge blow for mainstream news organizations in the age of disinformation.

The public has been less and less trusting of major outlets over the years, and such blatant partiality truly undermines the overall decent coverage of the war in Ukraine.

Journalists should be reporting strict facts, not making social and economic commentary using outdated Cold War terminology.

This type of prejudiced rhetoric is a problem because it implies a hierarchy between countries and their refugees, which almost always leads to discrimination.

There are reports of Africans being stopped by authorities at the Ukrainian-Polish border.

It wasn’t that long ago when Poland and Hungary refused to take in any of the 160,000 refugees they agreed to during the 2015 European migrant crisis, a stark contrast to today when Poland has allowed around 1.5 million migrants to enter the country from Ukraine with open arms.

Some would say that people are trying to insert racism into a conversation that just does not fit. It may be possible that those journalists did not intend to make discriminatory remarks.

One could also argue that a few bad clips have been played on repeat and aren’t accurate representations of the media coverage at all.

It is completely fair to call out racism in this context because the reliance on comparing other conflicts to the plight of the Ukrainians dehumanizes and overlooks the struggles of refugees across the world.

While none of these journalists could have intentionally been trying to make prejudiced comments in their coverage, the implicit bias here is what so many are calling out.

Not all the media coverage of Ukraine has been horrible, but the issue here is that journalists are supposed to be objective, so any member of the press conveying a bias toward any given situation should be called out for it, especially in times of war.