[Marxism] Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine | VICE United States
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 25 06:47:59 MDT 2014
This is the first in a series of reports from Ukraine by Simon
Ostrovsky, a reporter for Vice news in Brooklyn. He was kidnapped by
pro-Russian activists who accused him of being a Right Sector spy. From
what I can determine from the videos I have looked at, the charge is
ridiculous. In any case,
Vice is an international magazine focused on arts, culture, and news
topics. Founded in 1994 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in later years the
company expanded into Vice Media, with divisions including the magazine,
a website, a film production company, a record label, and a publishing
imprint. As of March 2013, the magazine's editor-in-chief is Rocco
Castoro and its global editor is documentary filmmaker Andy Capper.
The magazine's editors have championed the "Immersionist" school of
journalism, regarded as a DIY antithesis to the methods practiced by
mainstream news outlets, and the monthly publication is frequently
focused on a single theme.
This Huffington Post article states that Rupert Murdoch has bought a 5
percent stake in the gonzo outlet. Not that big of a surprise since
Murdoch did the same thing with the Village Voice in the 80s but at a
100 percent--and in the process helped to destroy it. Let's hope that
Vice is vaccinated against his predatory infections.
NEW YORK –- Vice News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky has reported
extensively through Central Asia, the Middle East and the Caucasus
region, but says he’s never encountered as much hostility as he has
covering the Russian invasion of Crimea.
“I think it’s because of the propaganda that Russia is broadcasting over
the television networks 24/7, brainwashing the people out here into
thinking that the entire world has come out against Russia,” Ostrovsky
told HuffPost in a phone interview from the Crimean capital of Simferopol.
That hostility shines through in Ostrovsky’s compelling video series for
the just-launched Vice News channel, titled “Russian Roulette: The
Invasion of Ukraine.” In one dispatch, Ostrovsky has a tense exchange
with a Russian soldier trying to prevent his crew from filming. In
another, a group of pro-Russian demonstrators throw his press card on
the ground and stamp on it.
But the most harrowing moment comes in the sixth dispatch. Members of
the Berkut, the disbanded Ukrainian riot police force now manning
checkpoints for the Russians, attack and detain Ostrovsky and a
cameraman. “I'll shoot to kill," one member says.
At the end of the video, Ostrovsky said they were released because he
was American and the cameraman was British. But upon reflection,
Ostrovsky told HuffPost the fact that a second cameraman got away with
footage from the incident likely helped. "If they held us for a long
time, he said, "it was going to get out very quickly and make them look
Vice is known for ground-level coverage of conflict, with the media
company’s gonzo style evident in early films like “Heavy Metal in
Baghdad” and “The Vice Guide to Travel.” Last year, Vice broadened its
audience through an HBO series, which concluded with a controversial
episode that was filmed in North Korea and featured Dennis Rodman, the
former NBA star and “best friend” of dictator Kim Jong-un.
The second season of the HBO series premieres Friday with an episode
looking at waste and corruption in Afghanistan. It also examines the
Brazilian government's pacification of the favelas, or slums, in Rio de
Janiero in anticipation of the World Cup and 2016 Olympics. In the
second episode, Vice co-founder Shane Smith treks to Greenland to see
the devastating effects of climate change up close.
Vice has come a long way from its roots as a renegade Montreal-based
magazine. Rupert Murdoch bought a 5 percent stake in the global media
company last year, putting its value at $1.4 billion. But Vice's
higher-ups hope to retain its outsider ethos by appealing to a younger
generation of news consumers who, they believe, care about the world but
are turned off by the more detached style of traditional TV news.
“We hope to be as frequent in your lives as '60 Minutes' was for the
last generation,” Eddy Moretti, the executive creative director of Vice,
told an over-capacity crowd at Wednesday night’s premiere of the new HBO
Smith, too, has referenced iconic media brands when talking up Vice’s
On March 4, while appearing on “CBS This Morning” to discuss the the
Vice News launch, Smith expressed a desire to become the next CNN, MTV
and ESPN rolled into one.
By that afternoon, at least a third of Smith’s grand plan seemed feasible.
During CNN’s “The Situation Room,” host Wolf Blitzer spoke to Ostrovsky
and aired footage from his first dispatch, a standoff between Russian
and Ukrainian soldiers outside a military base in Crimea. Ostrovsky's
reporting has since been featured several more times on CNN and on
MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” and "Now with Alex Wagner."
Ostrovsky, in the immersive journalistic style that typifies Vice’s
coverage of the world, scales the wall of a Ukrainian naval base, gets
into an armored personnel carrier, and signs up with Crimea’s
pro-Russian self-defense force. He also highlights some of the
absurdities of covering the story, such as needing to physically trek to
a military base in order to call the press office from a specific phone,
only for them not to pick up.
But in other ways, Ostrovsky’s work isn’t so different from that of
other foreign correspondents. That's not surprising given that his
resume also includes reporting and documentary work for wire service
AFP, BBC's NewsNight and Al Jazeera English. After freelancing for Vice,
Ostrovsky moved into a more permanent role at the company last August.
He arrived in Crimea on March 2, two days before the official launch
Vice News launch.
In the series, Ostrovsky conducts interviews, mostly in Russian, with
the people he encounters on the street and at military installations --
be they Ukrainian soldiers, demonstrators, Serbian war veterans, or the
leader of a pro-Putin biker gang. (Ostrovsky, an American, was born in
Russia and moved back to there as a journalist age 17.)
Ostrovsky said he’s “trying to tell the same story everybody is trying
to tell” in Crimea and that he has great respect for what other
journalists are doing in the region.
“It’s a just a difference in approach,” he said. “We’re not telling
different stories. We’re just telling them in a different way.”
“I’m sort of looking at it in terms of what I can see, where I go,
instead of trying to say everything that’s happening here in one
report,” Ostrovsky said. “I just try to tell what it’s like on the
ground from my own perspective, from having been there and seen what
Unlike a traditional TV package, Ostrovsky’s dispatches don’t include
footage from different sources and crews, or any voiceover treatment.
The seven that have been produced so far range in length from roughly
four minutes to just under 13 minutes. Ostrovsky said because the
dispatches don’t have to fit in the rigid time constraints of
television, they will be as long as Vice believes a viewer will remain
“I’m not chasing after the main headline story of the day,” Ostrovsky
said. “I’m just sort of chasing after whatever’s going on and just
telling the one that I actually saw.”
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