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Friday, July 1, 2022

Why journalists covering Ukraine and Russia lean into the many unknowns of war reporting

We’re seeing only a small fraction of the action in Ukraine and Russia right now. And some of what we are seeing in social feeds and faraway commentary is distorted. So it’s important for news outlets to recognize this knowledge gap and underscore the known unknowns in the minute-by-minute coverage.

I hate to fall back to the “fog of war” metaphor, but it exists for a reason. The fog is thick right now. Military officials know it. During a Sunday morning press briefing with Pentagon reporters, an unnamed senior defense official said something about “humility” that stood out to me. “The Ukrainians are putting up a very stiff and brave and heroic resistance,” the official said. “But we are only on day four. And I would be reluctant to provide an estimate of how many more days there are here.” The point: Predictions are a fool’s errand. Combat is ugly and unpredictable. “Everybody needs…

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