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Zack Baddorf

Military Veterans in Journalism: #FreeEvan

By Features

MVJ’s executive director joins calls of support for the reporter’s freedom.

As a military veteran, a journalist, and a co-founder of Military Veterans in Journalism, I am outraged by the unjust detention of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by Russia on false charges of espionage.

The imprisonment of journalists for simply doing their job is a heinous attack on the fundamental pillars of democracy and press freedom. Russia must free Evan immediately.

When I think of the situation that Evan is in, it makes me tense up. Having been detained for my owned journalism work by security forces in several autocratic nations throughout my career, I have a deep personal understanding of the sort of fear and uncertainty that Evan must be experiencing. For me, it was an overwhelming feeling of being entirely powerless.

Journalists around the world put themselves in harm’s way every day to report on important news and to hold those in power accountable. We must stand in solidarity with Evan and all other journalists who are being targeted for doing the critical work of journalism.

Gerschkovic’s detainment is also a heartbreaking reminder of the ongoing detention of U.S. Austin Tice, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran held in Syria since 2012 for his journalism on the conflict. Military Veterans in Journalism has publicly supported the Tice family in their mission to bring him home. We now join the call for Russia to release Evan. We also call on the Biden administration to do everything in its power to pressure Russia to free Evan.

The truth is a dangerous pursuit, but we must not let dictators like Putin instill fear in us as journalists.

We stand in solidarity with Evan Gerschkovic, his family and his colleagues at the Wall Street Journal as they fight to bring him home. But we cannot stop there. We must continue to raise our voices for press freedom, to call out injustice, and to protect those who risk everything to bring us the truth.

An image of MVJ Executive Director Zack Baddorf. Here, he is pictured smiling and wearing a gray shirt, with the U.S. flag in the background.

Zack Baddorf is a Navy veteran, journalist, and the co-founder and executive director of Military Veterans in Journalism. Currently a national security and foreign policy practitioner, Baddorf has more than 20 years of experience on the frontlines of the world’s conflicts, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central African Republic, Crimea, Kashmir and the West Bank.

Three years? Wow, time flies.

By Features, News

Dear MVJ Members,

May 1st marks the third anniversary of Military Veterans in Journalism. Since Russell Midori and I founded the org back in 2019, we have been working to help our fellow vets chase their dreams in the journalism field.

We believe journalism is a service to the nation and we see a career in media as a way for our nation’s veterans to continue their service. We also know that veterans are vastly under-represented in the media and we’re working to change that, step by step.

In these three years, we have brought together an amazing community of more than 500 veterans, created many dozens of mentorships, partnered with prominent national organizations like Poynter and the Knight Foundation, hosted career fairs and a national convention, and run more than two dozen webinars to inform our members and connect them with resources. Importantly, we’ve also put more than 10 vets to work in paid internship and fellowship opportunities that we created and funded specifically for our veteran community.

We couldn’t have done it without all of you and your support. Thank you for being members of our community and thank you for your work in journalism. You are what makes MVJ great and it’s an honor for all of us on the MVJ team to advocate for you.

As Russell says, “Journalism needs veterans more than veterans need journalism.” That is to say, you are bringing diversity and trust to the media at a time when American trust in journalism reaches all time lows. We believe now more than ever, your work is critical for democracy.

We urge you to continue taking advantage of the resources MVJ offers. Apply to our internship and fellowship opportunities, get a journalism mentor, and participate in skill development events. We’ve also recently revamped our MyMVJ member portal – join us on the new MyMVJ!

As always, please feel free to email me or Russ to share ideas and thoughts on how we can better serve the community. We are always looking for ways to improve.

All the best,