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Afghanistan Newsnight website

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You can view the 16 minute Newsnight documentary on the Newsnight website for, I think, three days. We'll post the entire film on the blog, on YouTube and Brightcove as soon as we can. Meanwhile, take a minute to peruse the Newsnight Afghanistan page for related video, interviews and links to Flickr, Google Maps and Wikipedia etc. All of which will become a growing part of how we do journalism at the Frontline Club over the coming months and years. It's great to see the reactions coming in to the film both in the comments and elsewhere.


Tom Redfern | September 27, 2007 1:20 PM | Reply


I saw the report from Helmand last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was a very honest report, and also a very brave one (I didn't notice any point where the cameraman ducked down!).

I do believe it's a major advantage having ex-military do the camera work, as it gives a more honest relfection of the typical soldier's experience.

It was great to see lots of Hesco being used, both from a company profits point of view, but also from the aspect that we like to know that our product is doing its job out in the field and offerring lots of protection.

Here's a thought for you: we constantly struggle to get moving image of our products in use in the field (we organise a yearly photo competition with a Harley Davidson motorcycle as the first prize). Is there any mileage in putting together a series of clips featuring Hesco in use in Afghanistan? We would, of course, pay for this footage if it's useful to us.

Let me know what you think of this idea.

Anyway, congratulations on a job well done.


Tom Redfern

Colin | September 27, 2007 2:34 PM | Reply

I'm an expat down under. The Newsnight web video was very low res. I'll look forward to you uploading a better quality version mate.

Thanks for your work and letting us all know how well our lads are doing out there.

Nick Jones | September 27, 2007 3:19 PM | Reply

Great stuff. Well done.

Neil | September 28, 2007 3:55 PM | Reply

On his blog Graham asked "is this a good journalistic product? If it is, why is it? If it isn't, why isn't it?" I'd say it's not a good product. Excellent idea, and it's really interesting to see what the soldiers actually get up to - you just don't get that kind of detail in regular coverage - but it doesn't work.

Why? It lacks any clear narrative structure. It just starts, with no intro or explanation, and then just carries on. If I hadn't read the other posts explaining what it is and how it was made, I'd be baffled.

Also, for me, it's too long. If I'm watching on the web, I want 2-minute items. You could maybe have chunked this down into six sections of that length, and structured them so that as each ends I naturally want to watch the next - like chapters in a book - but a 15 minute file is daunting, especially if there's no narrative to lead me through it.

Christian | September 29, 2007 6:26 PM | Reply

I caught the Newsnight piece and thought the video was really well made.

I don't think that editorially it was up to much though. Nothing was mentioned as to how two platoons of British troops, supported by the Afgan army, with air support from US Apache helicopters couldn't catch a couple of farmers (sorry (ahem) Taliban) and ended up holding nothing but a bloodied rag as evidence that they were fighting something more than ghosts...

Anonymous | September 30, 2007 2:59 PM | Reply

Neil, Christian, I am very interested in your comments. I am trying to refine a way of working that I can deliver as an independent journalist, primarily online and normally working alone. It is a lot of work when there is nobody else to help.

At the same time I am tired of seeing conventional reporter-led delivery. I believe that today's television news is over-produced, subscribes to a narrow and common news agenda and pretends to know much more than it actually does.

I don't think I have got it right yet and I agree that short films work best online. But I would prefer the audience make their own conclusions rather than accepting any editorial bias that I might deliver. I don't know all the answers.

My aim on the Newsnight peice was straightforward: I wanted to show the soldier's as they are and deliver a sense of what it is really like for them to fight in Afghanistan.

I am concerned by the failure of the British public to take ownership of the war. Regardless of whether we approve of it or not, our soldiers are severely engaged on our behalf.

Sean Rayment, a Sunday Telegraph reporter, was with another Royal Anglian company during the same operation. He reports that dozens of Taliban were killed in the operation. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/02/wafg102.xml

Thanks for taking an interest. Your feedback is very helpful. Vaughan

Neil | October 2, 2007 11:21 AM | Reply

Vaughan - it must be really tough producing a report like this on your own, in the field. I think when assessing how well it works - as a viewer - it's important to put aside any thoughts about how hard it must have been to make. It needs to stand on its own feet.

Having said that, I've got enormous respect for what you are doing. As a journalist, I find it innovative and exciting. As a viewer, it's so refreshing to watch something that doesn't insult my intelligent, treats its subjects with respect, and acknowledges the fact that the world is a complex and messy place.

What do you think?