London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth announced her resignation this morning in protest of the politicized coverage of yesterday’s shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Firth said the manner in which Russia Today announced the tragedy was the “straw that broke the camel’s back for me.” Press Gazette has more:
Russia Today has been criticised for suggesting the crash is the fault of Ukraine. Most other media outlets have suggested that a more likely explanation is that pro-Russian separatists were responsible for shooting down the passenger jet. So far it is estimated that around 300 people died in the crash.
“Yesterday when the story broke you get the kick in your stomach when you’re going to get the facts and it’s this huge story,” she told Press Gazette.
“And I walked into the newsroom and they were running an eye-witness account of God-knows who the person was blaming the Ukrainian government, and it is such a volatile situation.”
She explained that Russia Today encourages reporters to place the blame on Ukraine or anywhere else to avoid tarnishing Russia’s image.
“I said it then, if I was asked to burn the facts and not tell the truth I’d be a goner, and so I’m gone...
And it’s the level of disrespect for the facts that really bugs me.
And so I made my decision yesterday when we started covering the story and this morning woke up and I just knew that I can’t go back in any more."
She added: “The thing is once I made the decision, you have to be honest with yourself and it’s so difficult.... Once you start telling the truth it’s brutal.”
Firth declared her resignation publicly via Twitter around 8:00 AM EDT:
I resigned from RT today. I have huge respect for many in the team, but I'm for the truth. pic.twitter.com/mZ1g0R7N0D— Sara Firth (@Sara__Firth) July 18, 2014
Before resigning, she engaged in a blunt exchange with one of her colleagues, Polly Boiko, after another Twitter user accused Boiko of spreading lies:
@Polly_Boiko How do you sleep at night, taking money to spread Putin's lies? All those dead children on that plane.— Tanos (@ukTanos) July 18, 2014
@ukTanos what am i spreading?— Polly Boiko (@Polly_Boiko) July 18, 2014
Firth basically had a choice between quitting her job or being fired after this Tweet:
RT style guide Rule 1: It is ALWAYS *Ukraine's fault (*add name as applicable)— Sara Firth (@Sara__Firth) July 18, 2014
Russia Today has not commented on Firth's accusations or resignation.