dr Greta Gober will lead the newly established Ukrainian-Taskforce on media diversity.

February 24, 2022, marks the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which shocked everyone. Following the new geopolitical situation alongside the migration of Ukrainian citizens to Poland the project’s team called for an ad-hoc meeting with its Advisory Board. The meeting took place on March 23rd (online) and the goal has been to discuss what our project’s role and responsibility should be in this situation. The war had an obvious impact on the way Polish news media were functioning and disrupted our fieldwork in Poland for over a month. As we slowly started remerging from the ‘shock ’zone’ we wanted to discuss with how to re-structure our project’s objectives to best reflect and include this new reality in the fieldwork and project’s framework.  

We remembered similar discussions on the role of the media in times of crisis, most recently in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic, but what was now different was the humanitarian crisis that everyone was ‘predicting was in the making’. Some of the newsrooms we study, such as TOK FM, OKO.Press, Onet.pl and Radio Kampus, have alreadycovered stories of refugee aid, but also examples of violence against people of colour on the Eastern borders of the European Union. 

Our Advisory Board shared our sense of urgency while at the same time advising patience in letting Polish newsrooms adjust to this new reality. Christian Christensen and Amaka Ohia-Nowak agreed that the project’s framework could serve as a reference point for a discussion on racism and racialization, comparing Polish media’s coverage of the different reception of refugees at the Ukrainian and the Belarus border. By focusing on gender, race, and representation in media’s coverage of the humanitarian crisis we would gather empirical evidence to further the discussion on how inclusivity and diversity looks like when different factors (e.g. nationality and race) are at play. 

Sandra Subel supported the idea of focusing on women and kids’ representation in the media coverage. Sayaka Osanami Torngren and Julie Posetti wisely advised keeping our eyes open to conducting parallel activities within the so-called Ukrainian-Taskforce. Among the salient questions are: What knowledge is emerging in how newsrooms innovate in emergency situations? How does such transformation affect diversity and how are journalists coping psychologically with covering war and an unfolding humanitarian crisis? What are their ‘blind spots’, and who is aware of them? 

We all agreed on conducting additional research on gender, race, and media representation in times of Ukrainian. Moreover, we proposed to organise a round-table discussion with representatives of the media, NGO’s and other public benefit organizations involved in the humanitarian crisis in Poland on role of the media in shaping attitudes of tolerance and respect for diversity in times of war and crisis. 

We are grateful to our Advisory Board for meeting us on such short notice and supporting our team and the project’s objectives in these difficult times. The Ukrainian-Taskforce will be led by Greta Gober, with participation by Anna Jupowicz-Ginalska.   

Snösätra the Graffiti Hall of Fame in Stockholm, March 2022.