As I’ve written, I’ve just returned from an intense 2-month period of work in Crimea, to Donbass. While I was away, Ukrainian media did their usual business, nonsense, by writing that I’d ‘fled Donbass, not to return, etc‘, often adding in their perennial favourite that I’m ‘gay’, for reasons known only to them.
This was a deliberate misuse of what I’d actually said, which was that I had no current plans to film reportage from Donbass. That came after a 3-month period, from May to July, where I’d done everything I could, filmed everything I could, but just couldn’t get people to watch the reportage. I do all of my video reports with the idea that they will change the world, for the better, by delivering the truth, otherwise, why do them?
If it comes to the situation that I know that whatever I do will get at most, a few thousand views, with little or no resonance, it’s hard not to think ‘why bother’, honestly. More, not that I judge everything by views, because I could take a video of a cat on a skateboard, or speak about Lady Gaga’s new single, and get a million plus, but they are an indication of how much something is needed, or wanted.
If people don’t need, or want, my reportage from Donbass, as the low views indicated, then foisting yet more would hardly seem the answer. Yet ‘ditching’ Donbass was never, ever even considered. More, I used the time in Crimea – where my reportage reached a mass audience, with views in the millions, to think how better I could help Donbass, if my reportage wasn’t what was required at this time.
I spoke with people in Crimea about this, about Donbass, and gained more insight into this. People in Russia still support Donbass, as before, but, there’s a lot of pain associated with it, it can be painful to watch it. Almost 4 years of war, people still suffering, the death of iconic Donbass figures, such as Givi, Motorola. How many videos of people crying that their homes have been shelled can people take?
More, people are aware of the situation in Donbass – it’s tough, but stable. War goes on, at the lines of conflict, homes on the perimeters are still hit by Ukrainian shelling. It’s low-intensity war. This is still a human tragedy, but one that doesn’t translate into mass response to reportage. People know it, are sad about it, but what can they do about it? Everyone is waiting for something to resolve this prolonged, painful, inhumane situation.
So, views of reportage can’t be conflated with concern, or engagement in the Donbass situation. When in Crimea, I organised gatherings for people to donate goods for humanitarian aid, for Donbass. There was a big response, a large quantity of donations, much more than I could fit in my car. Back in Donbass now, I took everything I could this time, and will arrange transport for the rest, for distribution soon, to children’s homes here.
I’m also recharged after Crimea, back in the mood to do reportage from Donbass, and will do one or two more special reports from here, before the end of the year. However, for now, it’s almost certainly the case that the humanitarian help is of more help to Donbass than my reportage.