“Our main purpose has always been to be Ukraine’s voice in the world. That’s the reason we created The Kyiv Independent,” Daryna Shevchenko said.
Daryna is the CEO of The Kyiv Independent, a Ukrainian news source that reports in English. It provides news, commentary and other content that explains current events surrounding Ukraine to foreigners.
When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, readers across the world were looking for accurate and timely updates regarding the events.
“The war was a gigantic catastrophe that strengthened our global role,” Daryna sai., “People started to search for reliable information about Ukraine, and by that time, we already had a reputation of practicing honest journalism and being professionals of our craft. Therefore, people started to share our work, recommend us, and that’s how most of the readers learned about us.”
The platform was established at the end of 2021; its staff consists of former reporters from The Kyiv Post, another English-language newspaper based out of Ukraine. The Kyiv Post has been working in the country for 26 years. In November of 2021, the newspaper got a new owner, who fired all the employees. According to the journalists, this was due to political pressure and was an attempt to put a stop to independent reporting.
Those who left The Kyiv Post decided to launch a new medium, and thus, The Kyiv Independent was founded. The platform was initially funded through an emergency grant from the European Endowment for Democracy and raised more than 1.4 million euros through a GoFundMe campaign.
“We had our Patreon through which our readership community supported us. We organized online and offline events for them, prepared different materials and participated in various conferences,” Daryna explained.
“Before the start of the war, we had around 30,000-50,000 views on the website per day,” she continued, “We also had an active Twitter with tens of thousands of followers. So, people knew about us.”
Now, The Kyiv Independent has 1.8 million Twitter followers, around 50 thousand subscribers on Telegram and Instagram and 36 thousand people on Facebook. In addition, just during the first two weeks of the war, the platform website got 8 million page views.
“We understand the great responsibility we have in the world,” Daryna says, “For example, the President of the European Commission quoted us when she held a presentation in the European Parliament. It was truly motivational and a sign that we are doing things right in our role that has become more important than ever. I think everyone in our team feels this responsibility.”
According to Daryna, their work differs from other national media because The Kyiv Independent provides much more context for foreign readers that Ukrainians might not need. For example, they have explained why certain towns are strategically important, where they are, and why they may be targeted.
“We also give much more historical, political and social context in comparison to other Ukrainian media because we cannot expect our readers to already know all of that,” the CEO added. As Daryna points out, The Kyiv Independent is active on most social media platforms that are used by Western audiences.
“We are very active on Twitter, where we’ve got most of our subscribers, and through Twitter, we send a big share of our audience to our website,” she said, “Still, we work on all major platforms.” In addition, the media team consists of both Ukrainians and foreigners.
“We’ve got native English speakers, who bring a lot of good things into our work such as high journalism standards, good storytelling abilities and high-quality English,” Daryna said. “Having foreigners in our staff also allows us to work 24/7 because some of our foreign team members live in other time zones, so they can report and update the website at night when most Ukraine-based journalists are not available.”