Soros Mag: Focus On White Deaths in Ukraine Is Racist ‘Dog Whistle.’

The billionaire-backed OpenDemocracy website claims journalistic focus on Ukraine undermines ethnic minority trust in media.


OpenDemocracy – a left-wing, online magazine funded in large part by George Soros’s Open Society Foundations – has called for the coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict to be “anti-racist,” while appearing to insist that coverage of white war casualties is a racist “dog whistle.”

On March 2nd, OpenDemocracy published an opinion editorial entitled “Racist War Reporting Undermines Trust in Media,authored by Marcus Ryder, an alumnus of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Chinese state-run media outlet China Global Television Network (CGTN). The editor of the book “Black British Lives Matter,” Ryder has also served as Chairman of the Royal Television Society’s Diversity Committee.

In recent days, I have been worried that some of the media coverage of the Ukraine war is actively undermining that trust in established media organisations, especially among people of colour and certain marginalised sections of the audience.

– Marcus Ryder

“The fact that a conflict may be thought of as relatively more important because it is taking place on European soil should not be confused with the idea that we should be more sympathetic to the victims of a conflict because they are European,” Ryder explains, insisting “too many journalists” have already done so in regard to the ongoing RussiaUkraine conflict.

“News reports that try to increase an audience’s emotional connection to European victims by drawing comparisons to how the victims are people “just like us”, when this type of comparison hasn’t been used when reporting other conflicts, sends out the signal that we should value them more because they are European,” he continues.

“Stories that directly highlight that this conflict is more dramatic because “Ukraine is not a ‘Third World’ country” can feel like a ‘dog whistle’, with “not a ‘Third World’ country” really meaning ‘white,” Ryder asserts.

Until we have a more representative media that can change the culture of how stories are framed and reported, I believe newsrooms will continue to make these mistakes.

– Marcus Ryder

Ryder also calls out comparisons of “civilian Ukrainian victims […] to British victims of the Second World War (during the Blitz)” as racist, as “similar comparisons have not been made to civilian victims of bombings in other parts of the world.”

In addition to calling for the media landscape to become more “diverse,” Ryder also insists that “journalists should adhere to principles of equality and anti-racism.”

OpenDemocracy has taken several grants from George Soros’s Open Society Foundations, including a grant from the left-wing group’s policy center worth $55,000 to $83,000 and a grant worth over $138,000 from the foundation in 2020 alone. The organization has been funding the outlet annually since at least 2012.

Natalie Winters

Natalie Winters is freelance reporter.

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