Ukraine’s Streamers

These young citizen journalists risk it all to get the story

Credit: Dusan Sekulovic

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Ukraine’s current crisis shares a lot of characteristics with the popular uprisings of the last five years. Like the Egyptian revolution, a grassroots movement picked a public, central space in Kiev and camped out, making the message impossible to ignore. Like Syria, the rebellious groups are organizing via Facebook and other social media, circumventing traditional channels. And like all the recent revolutions, from Libya to Egypt to Syria and elsewhere, handheld video has been beamed live from the front lines onto screens around the world—by amateurs.

Streaming video from smartphones has changed the game for protesters. Where once a government could issue a clampdown and stifle reporting by closing off the mainstream media, now live on-scene reporting is a multi-headed hydra. Stop one stream and another pops up. Activist groups know the importance of ensuring that their situation is seen globally, and they train new recruits on how to stream video, so that no matter what happens, the world is a witness.

This is the story of Spilno.tv, a group of Ukrainian “streamers” who have been keeping the freedom-fighting pictures coming, despite the best efforts of pro-Russian forces. Try as they might, Moscow can’t disturb the flow of the streamers.

Ukraine’s current crisis shares a lot of characteristics with the popular uprisings of the last five years. Like the Egyptian revolution, a grassroots movement picked a public, central space in Kiev and camped out, making the message impossible to ignore. Like Syria, the rebellious groups are organizing via Facebook and other social media, circumventing traditional channels. And like all the recent revolutions, from Libya to Egypt to Syria and elsewhere, handheld video has been beamed live from the front lines onto screens around the world—by amateurs.

Streaming video from smartphones has changed the game for protesters. Where once a government could issue a clampdown and stifle reporting by closing off the mainstream media, now live on-scene reporting is a multi-headed hydra. Stop one stream and another pops up. Activist groups know the importance of ensuring that their situation is seen globally, and they train new recruits on how to stream video, so that no matter what happens, the world is a witness.

This is the story of Spilno.tv, a group of Ukrainian “streamers” who have been keeping the freedom-fighting pictures coming, despite the best efforts of pro-Russian forces. Try as they might, Moscow can’t disturb the flow of the streamers.

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