A BBC reporter reported from a Ukrainian town under attack
The claim: An image shows a BBC journalist pretending to be on the front line in Ukraine
Dozens of reporters on the ground have covered the war between Russia and Ukraine since it began in late February, but some social media users claim a BBC reporter pretended to be on the front line .
“The BBC’s Jeremy Bowen pretends to be on the front line, while a woman looks on, apparently puzzled,” reads an October 5 Facebook post that has been shared more than 3,600 times in two days. .
The post includes a collage of four images, each taken from one of Bowen’s video reports from Ukraine. Two of the images show Bowen lying on the ground, wearing a bulletproof “press” vest and holding a microphone. The other two are widescreen versions of the same shot that show a woman standing in the distance staring at Bowen.
Other versions of the post have received thousands of shares.
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But a review of the full video from which the footage is taken reveals that Bowen was indeed reporting from the front lines of the war. The Ukrainian town where the footage was shot was under constant barrage from Russian forces during the first weeks of the war.
USA TODAY has reached out to users who shared the claim for comment. One user responded but provided no evidence that Bowen was “pretending” to be attacked.
Irpin attacked by Russia in the first weeks of the war
Screenshots are taken from a BBC video report from March 6 in Irpin, Ukraine. The text accompanying the video describes the city as being on the front lines of the war and notes that a woman and her two children were killed there by mortar fire as they attempted to flee.
The nearly four-minute video shows civilians fleeing the city, which is a suburb of the country’s capital, Kyiv, as artillery can be heard landing in the area.
Seconds before the part of the video from which the screenshots were captured occurs, people behind Bowen can be seen crouching as explosions are heard in the distance.
The New York Times described Irpin as “one of the most fiercely contested areas” during the first weeks of the war.
After: Ukraine regains more territory in the east and south as counter-offensives continue
One of the front pages of the newspaper at the time featured a photo of the woman and her two children killed in the mortar attack lying dead on the streets of Irpin.
In a tweet from October 6, Bowen said the claim that he claimed to be on the front lines of the war was “totally false” and an insult to Ukrainian refugees. The Associated Press, Full Fact and AFP Fact Check also denied this claim.
Ukrainian forces retook Irpin from Russian control in March, as reported by USA TODAY.
Our opinion: False
Based on our research, we rate the claim that an image shows a BBC journalist pretending to be on the front line in Ukraine FALSE. A review of the full video from which the footage is taken reveals that Bowen was indeed reporting from the front line.
Our fact-checking sources:
- AFP Fact Check, October 14, messages misrepresent photo of BBC journalist during attack in Ukraine
- Full fact, October 7, Image shared on social media does not show a BBC journalist claiming to be on the front line of the war in Ukraine
- Jeremy Bowen, October 6, Tweeter
- The Associated Press, October 6, image does not contradict BBC reporting on Russian-Ukrainian war
- USA TODAY, March 28, Biden says his comment about Putin not staying in power reflects moral outrage, not policy change: March 28 recap
- The New York Times, March 18, Kyiv suburbs become unlikely frontline of war in Ukraine
- The Arizona Republic, March 8 This heartbreaking image from Ukraine is a wake-up call; free press is essential to freedom
- BBC, March 6, War in Ukraine: Hiding in a city under attack
- The New York Times, March 6, Russian forces fire on evacuees, killing 4 outside Kyiv
- The New York Times, March 6, Ukrainian family’s race for safety ends in death
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