One month after Russian forces invaded his home country of Ukraine in February 2022, Oleksii Kovalenko MGA ’19 joined Voice of America as an international media journalist based in Washington, DC. Since that time, Kovalenko has worked as part of a team of 30 journalists that produces in-depth coverage of Ukraine for the US-owned news agency, the largest international broadcaster in the United States.
Informed by extensive interviews with State and Justice Department experts and also with high-level Ukrainian officials such as Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin, Kovalenko produces multimedia stories that focus on Russian war crimes and efforts to bring justice to Ukrainian victims.
“Most of our reporting is related to Russia’s war against Ukraine, US support for Ukraine, and its partnership with Western allies,” Kovalenko said. “One of our major objectives is covering US-Ukraine relations, and we provide daily analysis and prognosis for how the war is going.” In addition to being published in Ukrainian and English, news stories are translated into as many as 48 languages for international audiences.
As part of Voice of America’s Ukraine services team, Kovalenko creates two daily television shows that are broadcast live in Ukraine as well as digital content for Voice of America’s website and social media channels. This relentless schedule would be challenging in and of itself, but it’s especially taxing for the journalists from Ukraine.
“We have a lot on our plates, and we work hard to provide truthful and unbiased information.” Kovalenko said. “It takes a toll because for us, the war is personal.”
Kovalenko is no stranger to in-depth reporting, having worked as a journalist covering economics, politics, and peacekeeping in Ukraine before coming to Notre Dame to begin the master of global affairs program. At Voice of America, he draws not only from his extensive reporting experience but also from his academic knowledge gained at the Keough School, where he pursued a concentration in international peace studies through the Keough School’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
“My MGA degree has been extremely useful in my role here,” Kovalenko said. “For my capstone project, I was able to focus on Russian disinformation and propaganda and study how societies can be resilient amid disinformation. All the things I studied, including strategic peacebuilding, policy, and research methods, now influence my day-to-day work.”
Kovalenko said he also appreciated the opportunity to select multiple electives, especially courses on nongovernmental organization management, global actors and institutions, and data visualization.
Though a journalist’s work demands meticulous attention to the grim statistics of war, Kovalenko said he wants people in the US to remember that behind the numbers is a vast human toll.
“This war is not just numbers; this war is not just the percentage of territory that Russia captures and Ukraine liberates,” Kovalenko said. “It’s also an immense level of human suffering that is occurring as people are illegally deported, tortured, and raped, and as crimes are committed against civilians. Understanding this level of suffering is important for the US population.”
Amid the devastation of war, Kovalenko said he finds hope in the strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people. Also sustaining his sense of hope, he says, is the prospect of someday being able to invite his Notre Dame classmates to see his beloved hometown: Mariupol, Ukraine.
Opinions and views expressed by Oleksii Kovalenko are his own and are not attributable to Voice of America.
Top Photo: Oleksii Kovalenko MGA ’19 on the rooftop of Voice of America in Washington, DC. Photo credit: VOA Ukrainian/Kostiantyn Golubchyk/
Originally published at keough.nd.edu on July 13, 2023.