The death of an American videographer in Ukraine is “a huge loss” for journalism
“It’s a huge loss for us personally, and for journalism in general,” Lipinski said in an interview Sunday morning. “Brent was a brilliant videographer and one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.”
Renaud was a documentary filmmaker and photographer from Little Rock, Arkansas, who began his career covering the September 11 terrorist attacks and the war in Afghanistan, according to his Nieman biography.
He also worked often with his brother, Craig, and had covered the war in Iraq, the earthquake in Haiti and cartel violence in Mexico, according to The New York Times.
Renaud was working in Ukraine alongside another journalist, Juan Arredondo, also a member of the 2019 Nieman class, according to Lipinski.
Arredondo, in a video posted to social media on Sunday morning, said he was working with Renaud at Irpin to try to get images of refugees. At one point, someone offered them a ride and got shot as they drove past a checkpoint, according to Arredondo.
“We went through a checkpoint and they started shooting at us. So the driver turned around and they kept shooting,” he said.
In the video, Arredondo spoke as he appeared to be undergoing treatment at a busy medical facility.
Arredondo said Renaud was shot in the neck, but did not know his condition when the video was recorded. The couple were separated and Arredondo said he was taken by ambulance to the medical facility.
According to a New York Times statementRenaud had a Times press card with him, but was not on assignment for the news agency.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Brent Renaud. Brent was a talented photographer and filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years,” the statement read.
Sunday morning, Jane Ferguson, PBS NewsHour correspondent, wrote on Twitter that she left where Renaud’s body lay under a blanket. Doctors could do nothing to help her, she wrote, citing an outraged Ukrainian policeman at the scene.
“‘Tell America, tell the world, what they did to a reporter,'” the man told Ferguson.
I have just left the side of the road near Irpin where the body of American journalist Brent Renaud was lying under a blanket. Ukrainian doctors could do nothing to help him at this stage. Outraged Ukrainian police officer: “Tell America, tell the world what they did to a journalist.”
—Jane Ferguson (@JaneFerguson5) March 13, 2022
Lipinski did not know the details of the project they were working on in Ukraine. In the past, Renaud had worked on refugees. She hadn’t been able to speak to Arredondo, but had seen a video of Arredondo being treated in what appeared to be a medical facility.
She said anyone in a theater of war is at risk and journalists are not protected from these dangers.
“There’s a long history of journalists, and especially photojournalists, being put at high risk in situations like this,” she said. “In order to accurately bring the news to us, they are in situations that, by definition, are high risk.”
“So we’re both grateful and worried about them all the time,” she said.
Lipinski said that despite the risks associated with his job, Renaud was an incredibly sweet person.
“You saw that reflected in a lot of his work. His documentaries, which I hope people will keep watching, are studies in patience and listening. He took a lot of time with people, he let people’s stories unfold. He never rushed a story or an interview topic,” she said.
“There was a deep humanity to the work that came out of it,” she said.
In a 2020 column for the Globe, Renaud wrote about his work covering the Black Lives Matter movement in Harrison, Arkansas — long a center of white supremacist violence.
He followed Harrison residents as they staged a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in the city. One of the participants, Maya Hood, a then 22-year-old black woman, struggled with the urge to speak out during the protest, but also worried about retaliation for doing so.
Hood chose to speak during the protest, stating that “all lives don’t matter until black lives matter.” She urged people to take action.
“Do not remain silent, silence is violence. Say their names, and now go and do the work,” Hood told the crowd.
Renaud wrote of the moment: “It was one of the bravest things I think I’ve ever seen.”
Renaud’s death in Ukraine demonstrated the risks of keeping people informed in times of war, according to Lipinksi.
“I hope that people, following this war and this history, [that] they understand the risks that come with this job,” she said. “We are grateful for the information they bring to us. But it came today with a very high cost.
John Hilliard can be contacted at [email protected]