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Colvin Center director Sarah Baxter serves as guest speaker at screening of Ukrainian journalism documentary

woman with flower headdress holding a sign painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The sign says "Stop the War."

woman with flower headdress holding a sign painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The sign says "Stop the War."Sarah Baxter, director of the Marie Colvin Center for International Reporting, participated in a discussion about Ukrainian journalism following a screening of a documentary.

Baxter, an award-winning international journalist and visiting professor at the Stony Brook School of Communication and Journalism, shared her own experiences as a reporter and provided context after the screening of “Ukraine: The Other Frontline,” a documentary about a Ukrainian news station during the first few months of the Russian invasion. 

“I truly believe international reporting is a crucial part of the journalistic ecosystem,” said Baxter. “Without reporters in the field, risking their lives, we would not be able to see the truth that needs to be amplified, the issues that need to be addressed and the changes that need to be made in order to create a more equitable world.”

The Center hosted Iryna Domnenko, a visiting fellow from Ukraine, last fall, who addressed students and faculty on imperialist Russian narratives about the war. She came to Stony Brook through a US State Department program to learn about news literacy skills that can be used to counter Russian propaganda and disinformation.

In 2023, the Center hosted Ecaterina Miscisina, a media content creator with WatchDog.MD, based in Moldova, which borders Ukraine. Baxter took SoCJ students on a return trip to Moldova last May. The Colvin Center also held a teach-in about the evolving conflict, where a panel of professors and international correspondents gave their take on the invasion of Ukraine.

The Colvin Center, founded in 2013, honors Marie Colvin, who was killed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime during the war in Syria. The Center champions the causes for which Colvin gave her life: human rights, justice for victims of war, support for refugees, and attention to the safety of reporters at risk.

Unlike traditional documentaries, which are typically filmed after events take place, “Ukraine: The Other Frontline” places the importance of wartime reporting and journalism front and center, showing the reporters’ lived experiences in real time. 

The screening was part of the Port Jefferson Documentary Series and hosted by the Global Peace Film Festival. This is the second time Baxter has joined the post-screening conversations. In fall 2023, the SoCJ and Colvin Center co-sponsored the documentary “Rather,” a tribute to international reporter and journalistic icon Dan Rather. Rather’s career included covering the Vietnam War, real-time reporting of JFK’s assassination, and on-the-ground coverage of the Berlin Wall as it fell. 

Graduate students from the School of Communication and Journalism also attended the screening. Baxter highlighted their work in the discussion, and suggested the strong sense of comradeship experienced by the Ukrainian journalists under appalling wartime conditions would nevertheless feel familiar to them and many other journalists in far less threatening circumstances.

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