MSNBC creates gritty look for ‘Ukraine Crisis’

MSNBC has developed a standalone look for its coverage of the escalating situation between Russia and the Ukraine.

The network is titling its coverage of the tension as “Ukraine Crisis,” which is spelled out on screen using a condensed sans serif — sometimes on two lines and others on a single one and typically in red and white text.

Accompanying graphics use the blue and yellow color scheme of the Ukrainian flag along with a mix of other elements that can vary depending on the design — military imagery, a rough texture, map of Ukraine with a classic atlas look, the country’s coat of arms and “target” icons as well as a large star.

The star appears to have been inspired by the Hero of Ukraine (Герой України)’s Order of Gold Star medal that uses a five pointed star in its design and serves as the highest honor a citizen of the country can receive from the president.

MSNBC is using the design in a variety of ways, including in the virtual set extensions the network began using for its “MSNBC Reports” blocks in the fall of 2021 after moving back into a renovated Studio 3A. The set extensions are also used in the network’s Washington, D.C. and Miami studios.

Another design takes advantage of the floor to ceiling video wall with curved segment that appeared on the previous version of the studio and carried over into the new design, which has also been leveraged as a way for anchors to interact with a team of reporters and analysts form around the globe monitoring the situation.

The network also has a matching rectangular flag it can add to the top of its lower third banners.


Fox’s cable channel doesn’t appear to have a distinct look for Ukraine coverage, instead opting to use its “alert” branding when it’s covering the story. Likewise, CNN is using its standard breaking news design during segments related to the topic.

MSNBC’s look began rolling out in early February 2022 as signs pointed to a potential invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces and has continued to pop up more and more.

Two anchors at an anchor desk with 'Ukraine Crisis' graphics behind them

The design has also been used on “NBC Nightly News” video wall backgrounds, including for when anchor Lester Holt was in Washington, D.C. and joined on set by Andrea Mitchell, whose one shot had an additional graphic with a strong map motif.

A TV reporter with a Ukraine map background behind her