John Huddy '21 is no stranger to covering big news globally as a foreign correspondent. Now, he is working in Ukrainian combat zones covering the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Huddy, who graduated from FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) with his Master of Science in Global Strategic Communications, has spent more than 20 years in the journalism and news coverage industry. He began as a journalist in New York as a newspaper reporter, then later an on-air broadcast news reporter and now a senior correspondent for Newsmax.
“I’ve seen the best and worst of humanity covering this story,” says Huddy from Kharikiv, Ukraine. “The stories and images, the people we have met, and the places we have been are all unforgettable.”
Teamwork and communication he says are key to reporting in this setting. His team meets daily to discuss safety procedure updates, travel routes and video elements such as interviews.
Since arriving in March, Huddy has experienced and covered many facets of the war — from humanitarian relief efforts and getting caught in a firefight due to tank attacks on a medical unit building, to observing live military combat.
“Witnessing the front lines of battle has been fascinating, exhilarating and quite stressful at times,” Huddy says. “Meeting the people who have left their day jobs to fight for their country and traveling throughout the region as we cover the war in real time has also been a unique and rewarding experience. I’ve also found the spirit of Ukrainians inspiring, particularly those living close to the front lines who refuse to leave their homes despite the constant bombardment in the towns and villages that the fighting has decimated.”
He noticed that although the physical war zone is highly active in the cities and villages he visits, it is not the only war taking place between the countries. Social media has been used to rally the hearts of people through widespread information – and misinformation.
“I’ve found two active wars during this campaign — one with guns and bombs and the other with information and disinformation,” Huddy says. “Sifting through the propaganda — from both sides — and the fog of misinformation has been challenging and quite fascinating.”
Currently, Huddy is traveling all over Ukraine, covering the war and the shifts that happen from city to city. He recognizes that his graduate classes at FIU have helped him on this journey both personally and professionally. He credits courses such as research methods with Professor Sigal Segev (School of Communication + Journalism) and mediation and conflict resolution with Professor Judith Berrnier (Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs) for the knowledge that has been significantly helpful during the war coverage.
For students interested in a career in journalism and international correspondence, he shares two pieces of advice.
“Study international relations, global affairs, political science, law and economics. A law degree adds a level of expertise not many journalists have. Save your money! You become a journalist not for the money, but for the passion of the job.”