Ukrainian tech publications pivot to cover the war and provide survival advice

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Vera Chernysh is CEO and Editor-in-Chief of the three largest technology and business news publications in Ukraine – MC.today, ITC.UA and Highload. Chernysh has seen her own reality change since Russia invaded and attacked Ukraine in February, but she quickly made the business decision to transition her entire company’s operations from covering the latest technology trends to field war reporting.

“At [February] On the 21st, I woke up and saw that the news of the war had come. I lay in bed for three hours watching videos of the rockets and seeing people on my team discussing what was going on,” Chernysh said. “Then I realized that I had to stand up and I had to be strong in this situation. So I got the team together on a call. On one of the first Zoom calls, I saw a tank go by outside the window of one of our employees in the morning.

During that same call, Chernysh told his team that they were journalists first and that the country was now calling on them to tell their stories and get accurate information to people as quickly as possible.

Technical publications deliver news for survival

The three publications, which are 70% women and 40 journalists in total, normally focus on emerging technologies and economic news in Ukraine and receive four million readers a month. Now, after switching to coverage of the war on the ground and articles on how to get involved for the victory and protection of Ukraine, the company’s readership has skyrocketed to almost one. half a million readers a day.

Rather than writing about the anticipation surrounding what was at the time Apple’s next tech announcement slated for March 10, Chernysh and his tech reporters began writing about how to create shelters. fortune inside residential apartments, how to get out safely in case of bomb explosion and how to stay healthy in case of chemical explosion.

The group even began writing how-to articles focused on helping those who had fled the country and what to do as a refugee since many fleeing Ukrainians had not been to Europe, Chernysh said.

Two journalists from Vera Cherynsh’s team is working from Ukrainian bomb shelters.
Photos by Vera Chernysh.

Several Chernysh staff and journalists write and report from bomb shelters, which are equipped with Wi-Fi, across Ukraine on a daily basis. One of the media company’s game publishers is now part of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense.

“Our game editor gets up at 6 a.m. and works part-time in homeland defense. He does what he has to do there and after lunch he comes back and works as a journalist and writer in a bomb shelter,” Chernysh said.

Other tech journalists were able to flee to safety in surrounding countries and, after arriving as refugees in a safe place, continued to report and write for MC.today, ITC.UA and Highload.

Two female reporters from Chernysh were not heard from for several weeks, but have since been confirmed safe.

Cyberattacks against Russian and Ukrainian media

Days after the coverage pivot, the company, like several other media outlets, was targeted by cyberattacks, likely by Russian authorities, Chernysh said, to control wartime news messaging in and out of the country.

“At first, we didn’t know what to do. They were trying to shut down our websites, but we have a pretty good support team that is responsible for our cybersecurity. They [made adjustments] and our websites have not stopped working [for long]said Chernysh. “I think [the attacks occurred] for the first five days and since then it’s been fine.

Chernysh said that after the attacks on their media publications, IT professionals tightened protocols like stopping the ability to register on media websites, in case an attacker tried to log in there. access by registering for an account to comment, for example.

Since the start of the war, cyberattacks have not only targeted Ukrainian media, but also government entities and websites, telecommunications, and large-scale Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against financial and military institutions.

The road ahead for Ukrainian tech media

A return to tech coverage is unlikely to happen in the coming days as war rages in Ukraine, but Chernysh and his team remain committed to doing what they can as a company to provide accurate reports to their neighbors and fellow Ukrainians. and information to help them stay alive, organize themselves into communities and unite to fight back as effectively as possible.

Aftermath of the home of one of the journalists after being hit by a rocket.
Photo by Vera Chernysh.

“My dream is that soon, very soon, we will stop writing about the war and start telling stories about amazing Ukrainians building tech companies again,” Chernysh said. “For this dream to come true, our media must survive until victory. [We need others to] help us survive to continue to do journalism for the good of Ukraine – and in a free Ukraine.

Since the start of the war, advertising revenue from the publications ceased, as did several other normal operations in the region. The unseen battle that Chernysh and his team now face, in addition to tanks, bombs and rockets, is funded to keep their media coverage afloat.

“I think it’s important to show, and I don’t know if it’s shown enough right now in Western media, that Ukrainians are really positive,” she said. “Of course, we are suffering a lot, but everyone here is doing something for victory. For example, some programmers have become soldiers and those who were not have organized and volunteered in different technology initiatives. We all do something for the win.

Chernysh and his team have launched a fundraiser to support their media businesses during this time. Further information can be found on the fundraising homepage.

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