beauty salons, where a woman, Exsinya Kojushko, shared her guilt over having her hair done.

“I don’t think of myself as a war reporter,” says Fadel, who previously served as NPR’s internatio­nal correspond­ent based in Cairo. “I just cover people…sometimes that means they’re living through some of the most traumatic things that you can imagine, and that can be anywhere,” she says. “It’s becoming clear that there isn’t one part of the world where conflict is endemic.” Fadel was struck by the particular brand of shock that war would erupt in Europe, and the accordant idea that Ukraine might prompt more global empathy because it seemed more racially and culturally familiar to the Western world. “There should be an outpouring of compassion and shock over tragedy, always,” Fadel says. “This idea that war is so new to the modern era? No, it’s not.”

You Don’t Belong Here is the blunt title of author Elizabeth Becker’s 2021 account of three trailblazi­ng female correspond­ents in the Vietnam War (Becker herself began her career reporting on the Cambodian Civil War in the 1970s). “The Vietnam press corps was a male bastion that women entered only at the risk of being humiliated and patronized,” reads her epigraph, a quote from the Associated Press correspond­ent Peter Arnett. “The prevailing view was that the war was being fought by men against men and women had no place there.”

When author Janine di Giovanni started out as a young foreign correspond­ent in the 1990s, “there were very, very few women in the field,” she says. “The men were much older than me, much more experience­d, and really went out of their way to make me feel that I didn’t know what I was doing.” Di Giovanni, who is now directing a project documentin­g and verifying war crimes in Ukraine called Enabling Witnesses, remembers suffering “overt sexual harassment,” including “foreign editors telling me disgusting things over the phone.”

More women broke into the profession over the ensuing decades (though behind-the-camera roles are still male-dominated and women are still outnumbere­d in many foreign bureaus, Ward tells me). In Iraq between 2003 and 2007, “I was the only woman in the Baghdad bureau for pretty much that entire time,” Tavernise says. She didn’t attempt to compete with reporters embedded with troops. Instead, she set out to “be in as many living rooms of Iraqis” as possible, a sector of coverage seen as “backwater,” as she describes it. But her time immersed with Iraqis, hearing directly about entire blocks of men being killed in sectarian fighting, meant she gained an earlier understand­ing of the burgeoning civil war than many of her male colleagues did. “I think, actually, I got to where the war was going ahead of them,” Tavernise says.

Military coverage can still seem like the gold standard. A day after Ward’s viral dispatch on CNN, the Kyiv side of the same bridge where she stood—a known evacuation point for civilians— was attacked by a Russian mortar, killing Tetiana Perebyinis, a 43-year-old Ukrainian mother and accountant; her two children, Mykyta, 18, and Alisa, 9; and 26-year-old Anatoly Berezhnyi, a church volunteer helping the family flee. Photojourn­alist Lynsey Addario, who had been huddled behind a cement wall, was sprayed with gravel in the blast, wondering at first if she’d been hit by shrapnel. The mortar had landed between Addario and the family. “It could have been me as much as it was them,” Addario, 48, says from London, during a brief hiatus at home after six weeks in Ukraine. Addario hurriedly photograph­ed the fallen as she fled the scene, not knowing whether the pictures were even in focus. The grim images of four lives cut short—lying among their luggage, the children’s backpacks still strapped on—landed on the front page of The New York Times, providing searing evidence that, despite its denials, Russia was flouting even the flimsiest rules of engagement and transgress­ing into war crimes.

Still, Addario, a winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize, self-flagellate­d. “I have been beating myself up for the last two months about the photos that I haven’t been getting, the fact that I wasn’t doing more frontline stuff, more soldiers shooting their guns, more smoke and fire and destroyed buildings,” she says. “I kept feeling like, Oh, my coverage isn’t good enough. It’s not tough enough…but in lieu of that, I focus on the things that I, as a woman and a mother and a human being, am drawn to.” (Addario is the mother of two sons, Lukas, 10, and Alfred, 3, with her husband, former Reuters journalist Paul de Bendern.) In April, Addario detailed the crisis conditions for pregnant women, some huddled in a makeshift undergroun­d maternity ward, others so stressed they were going into premature labor: “Giving birth is difficult in the best of times,” she says. “Imagine what it’s like to have to go down into a basement shelter with your two-hour-old baby and try to find a breast pump that’s not available in any pharmacy.” In a story close to her heart, Addario photograph­ed 19 babies born to surrogates—as Addario’s younger son had been—lying on cheerful blankets in a Kyiv basement, being kept alive by nannies who refused to leave them. That the babies’ biological parents were unable to reach them— “I can’t even get my head around that,” Addario says, recalling her own family’s experience with a surrogate in Utah with whom they are still in contact. Addario and de Bendern had been in the delivery room. “We were so lucky,” she tells me.

Motherhood changes the stakes for women covering conflict zones—even as Addario resents the double standard of being asked about her family more often than fathers are. “The notion that I might die is a completely integral part of me going on assignment,” she says, pointing to the five journalist­s killed in the first month of the Ukrainian war alone. Among them was Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, whose death “shatters the illusion that you can do this in a sensible way and not get hurt,” says Ward, a longtime friend. “With every assignment I take, I wonder if I’ll come home,” says Addario. “It’s not like it didn’t matter before I had children, but with my husband, I thought, Okay, he’ll just remarry. But you can’t have another mother.”

Ward wrestled with a heightened sense of risk when she first had her boys, four-year-old Ezra and twoyear-old Caspar, with her husband, fund manager Philipp von Bernstorff. She fielded “more than a whiff of casual misogyny,” she remembers— suggestion­s that she’d stop traveling to war zones in favor of an in-studio position. Ward has since come to believe that motherhood adds dimension to

her reporting. “Maybe we need to have more mothers covering war,” she says. “I really believe that when you do it as a mother, you have a sense of responsibi­lity to mothers in war zones. I think it’s great to have mothers and fathers covering war.”

Addario is more cautious now, more calculated with her decisions, but “I’ll never be that kind of mother that society tells us we need to be,” she says. For Addario, “I feel like it’s harder, almost, to be a mother than it is to be on assignment on a story like Ukraine, because that’s where my whole life was, on stories like that, before I decided to have a family. I’m very comfortabl­e and very happy when I’m on assignment. When I come home, I have to get to know my kids again.” Six weeks away from her three-year-old feels like a particular­ly long stretch. “I have to ask the nanny, ‘What does he like now? What is he doing?’ ” Addario says it breaks her heart to observe that her 10-year-old hardly asks questions about her work, perhaps not wanting to know details as a form of self-protection.

“I sometimes describe coming home as going through a time machine. You’re getting sucked into the atmosphere of a different planet,” says Tavernise. “You tend to have this dazed feeling back in America,” the whiplash of arriving in a city “where everybody’s walking around drinking espresso.” Returning to a comfortabl­e life after witnessing such horrors as bodies piled in the hallways of a Ukrainian morgue “is the weirdest part of this job,” Yeung agrees. Her fiancé, journalist and documentar­y filmmaker Benjamin Zand, “says I’m always a very strange person when I come back.”

At home in London, Yeung felt “consumed with guilt,” she says—for the privilege of being able to leave the war, for worrying her family and for not being able to look away from the story and stop refreshing her news feeds. “It’s hard to be in both worlds, and my therapist would say that I need to try to be in the world that I’m in at the moment,” Yeung says, shaking her head.

Ward makes a point of speaking publicly about the mental-health toll of conflict reporting and the fact that she sees a therapist. “It’s still a taboo in this industry, because there is a lot of bravado and macho culture,” she says. She tells younger war correspond­ents: “Not only is it not shameful in any way to talk to someone, it’s actually something that should be mandatory.”

Yeung’s own trauma is evident: She frequently “jumps out of my skin” at loud noises, like the trash collector slamming bins. But “it’s not necessaril­y just that you are up all night dreaming of bodies,” she says. “It’s also that you become detached from what your life is, and so then you become irritable and it affects your relationsh­ips.” Many of Yeung’s peers from university are married with children. Yeung’s frequent travels complicate the notion of those milestones. “I don’t know how I would do this job with kids, and that’s a conversati­on that I have a lot with my boyfriend,” she says. “He’s a journalist, but he also needs me to be around in order to service that relationsh­ip, and I think he struggles with that a lot.”

During her six weeks in Ukraine, Addario repeatedly insisted that she was fine when friends from all phases of her life texted her with the same loaded question: “Are you okay?” The minute she crossed into Poland and texted de Bendern that she was safe, “I burst into tears,” Addario recalls. “I could not stop crying.” It was the release of six weeks of bottled stress and fear. “I didn’t know if I would survive, you know?” At home, she couldn’t bear to look at her photograph of the slain family at the Kyiv bridge. She bristled at the violence in the Swedish TV series her husband was watching. “I can’t listen to violence when I’m not in violence.”

The work becomes a bridge between two realities. “I think there’s a moral obligation, frankly,” says Fadel, an imperative to tell stories that many people won’t be able to witness themselves. Outsiders often look at them

with morbid fascinatio­n, but Addario says there is nothing twisted in her past that led her here. She notes with a laugh that she is the daughter of hairdresse­rs from the comfortabl­e suburb of Westport, Connecticu­t. “I don’t think of it at all as this crazy, brave profession,” she says. “I believe in this work. I really believe that photograph­s and good journalism can change the world.”

The women on the ground in Ukraine are determined to keep audiences engaged even in an ever-churning news cycle. “People always connect with the human condition,” Fadel says. “What do you do about sanitary products and how do you get groceries? As long as you can help people connect to an individual or a family, I think that people care.” When I ask Tavernise if she’ll be traveling back to Ukraine, she doesn’t hesitate: “I hope to.”

As for Yeung, she hadn’t told her mother yet, but the day after our Zoom call, she was heading back to Ukraine—to the southeaste­rn city of Zaporizhzh­ia, where refugees are fleeing from the devastatio­n in Mariupol. She wanted to focus on the children displaced, their futures uprooted. “Maybe it’s the grandiose idealism of the job, but I think it’s worth it,” Yeung says—worth the risk and the fear. “Providing depth and humanity to this war is valuable.”

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