The Wall Street Journal calls on industry’s support to free reporter detained in Russia
The WSJ’s world coverage chief has called on the marketing and media industry to use their expertise to raise awareness of the plight of his colleague detained in Russia.
WSJ calls on the ad industry for support
At The Drum’s B2B Worldfest, run in partnership with Stein IAS and LinkedIn, Gordon Fairclough, world coverage chief at the Wall Street Journal, appealed to the industry for support in its work to free his colleague Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in Russia.
“I’m sure you all have much smarter ideas are what we can do creatively and marketing ways to get the message out. So, if anybody has any thoughts they would like to share. We’re easy to find,” Fairclough told The Drum’s editor Cameron Clarke.
Gershkovich, who has just celebrated his 32nd birthday, was arrested six months ago while on a routine assignment in Russia and has been the subject of diplomatic demands by President Biden.
Fairclough continued: “When you’re a journalist, it’s always a bit of a shock when the news happens to you. We got word one evening that Evan had missed one of his regular security calls when he was reporting in Russia. That set off a mad scramble on our part to find him.
“And then the next morning, Russian state security put out a statement that he had been arrested for espionage.
“Shock has shifted to a combination of anger and frustration. He was out there just just doing his job. He left to go to work and ended up in prison.”
Fairclough believes Evan’s arrest is part of a worrying trend: “We are seeing a global creeping criminalization of journalism. Right through these various fake news laws through expanded espionage laws, and things like that, that are choking free expression,” he said.
He pointed out that a second journalist, Russian-American Alsu Kurmasheva of Radio Free Europe, was also arrested in October.
Highlighting that this is the first time Russia has imprisoned western journalists since the Cold War, he argues it is vital the media community makes a stand to protect the free press, so vital to providing an independent voice in an increasingly dangerous world.
The global journalistic community is keen to raise awareness of the threat: “It’s been amazing and heartening to see,” said Fairclough. “They have been galvanized to work for his release. I think it’s also brought home to all of us the importance of our job, there is a determination to show why it is so important that we have a free press in the world.”
But as well as supporting the Wall Street Journal in raising awareness of the issue, Fairclough also invited the industry to support him in terms of morale.
“So we can write to Evan and have done that a lot,” he said, “But we encourage all of you to write to him too. If you go on to the journal website, you will find links and instructions to do that. It’s his main source of contact with the outside world.”