Storyhunter Response to the Invasion of Ukraine and Freedom of Press Violations in Russia
As a platform and community of freelance journalists, filmmakers, and independent creators of all stripes, we at Storyhunter believe that it is crucial to state our position on the recent events in Ukraine and Russia and aid our community members in this unprecedented time of crisis.
We have been in touch with many of our freelancers on the ground in Ukraine whose top priority is getting their families to safety. For those of you who are now trying to get back to work, effective March 11, we will be waiving all freelancer fees for any projects in Ukraine completed on Storyhunter. We will ensure you get paid for your work through Bitcoin or any means necessary, though we may face some delays. We have also been sending out support and safety materials to our freelance community in Ukraine since Day 1 of this war, and will continue to do so. We will also share several links at the bottom of this page with helpful information.
As a result of Russia’s violent invasion of Ukraine on February 25th, we froze the Storyhunter accounts of all companies or entities directly or indirectly tied to the Russian government. These accounts will remain frozen for the foreseeable future. We ask our community to please report any signs or activities of Russian government-affiliated organizations or networks on the platform, so we can make sure to take appropriate action.
We condemn the Russian government’s internal crackdown on independent media outlets inside Russia. Many of these media organizations were the only sources of quality information that millions of people relied on in a massive country. To our freelancers in Russia, we want you to know that you will always have a platform in Storyhunter to get your stories out to the world. We will continue to support you and your work and will also make sure you get paid for your work completed on Storyhunter. To show our support to you, we will also be waiving all freelancer fees for any projects in Russia completed on Storyhunter, effective March 11.
Finally, many of you may be wondering whether it is legal to pay freelance creators in Russia or any other country sanctioned by the United States and OFAC. The short answer is: Yes. The reason it’s legal is due to a little-known statute called the Berman Amendment.
The U.S. Congress first passed this amendment in 1988, precisely to safeguard freedom of speech internationally. The amendment expressly limits the President’s authority to regulate the following under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA):
the importation from any country, or the exportation to any country, whether commercial or otherwise, regardless of format or medium of transmission, of any information or informational materials, including but not limited to, publications, films, posters, phonograph records, photographs, microfilms, microfiche, tapes, compact disks, CD ROMs, artworks, and news wire feeds.
This amendment has protected Storyhunter’s ability to pay freelancers for media and information services in Yemen, Afghanistan, and now, Russia. Even though these payments are legal under U.S. law, practically speaking, payment for media services to sanctioned countries is always arduous because banks typically do not grant us the exceptions we deserve under the law. Therefore, we need to figure out complex workarounds, which we typically do. In summary, whether you are in Yemen, Afghanistan, Russia, or any to-be sanctioned country, we will pay you for your media services anywhere in the world. We simply ask for your patience as we solve for this.
Media deserves to be free.
Human beings deserve to be safe from indiscriminate violence.
Please stay safe,
Jaron and the Storyhunter Team
Storyhunter Support Article for freelancers in Ukraine or Russia.
If you’re a journalist covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, you can follow CPJ’s safety advice here.
You can find safety advice on the Dart Center’s resource page here.
The Rory Peck Trust is offering grants for freelancers to support the costs of a temporary relocation, temporary accommodation, and costs of safety kits (flak jackets and helmets). Find out more.
The ACOS Alliance has many physical and digital safety resources and links to updated information and opportunities.
The IFJ and EFJ launched a Safety Fund to help journalists. You can learn more and donate here.