“Patriotic journalism,” a deviation from objectivity, has become an important paradigm and well-documented phenomenon in the analysis of conflict coverage. However, studies rarely focus on the link between journalists’ perceptions and narratives. We investigated how journalists from two countries, one involved in a conflict (Ukraine) and the other observing it from a distance (Sweden) relate to the objectivity norm in sourcing and narrating seven conflictive news cases in Ukraine (2017 to 2018). We found pragmatic commitment to objectivity in both countries, which was not always reflected in the content produced. For Swedish journalists, our results hint toward a value-based ally loyalty, which seems less stable than a tribe-based bond. In Ukraine, official Ukrainian perspectives were undisputedly disseminated; however, we did not find that they were generally positively laden, as one would expect for patriotic journalists. Trust in public institutions might be a deciding factor over the extent of patriotism.