From the blogs

November 21, 2012

From Cast Lead to Pillar of Defense: How the IDF has learnt to communicate war in Gaza online

In 2009, I wrote a blog post arguing that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had “fallen off the social media bandwagon”. Their digital media campaign in support of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was hastily conceived, unimaginative and anti-‘social’. New tools were used to disseminate traditional military messages with little regard for a new online […]


July 28, 2010

Hunting Men

Here is my director’s cut. 22 minutes from Operation Moshtarak, exciting stuff. Shows the war as it really is. First shown on Channel 4 News in February 2010. Vaughan


June 2, 2009

I can’t talk about these things…

Dutch video journalist Ruud Elmendorp spent almost a week in Mogadishu, the embattled Capital of Somalia, at the end May. The insurgents led by the Al Shabab and Al Hizbul movements are trying to topple the internationally recognized government of president Sheik Sharif Ahmed. In this guest post for the Frontline Club, Ruud reports from […]


June 2, 2009

Dodging Antonovs in Darfur

It wasn’t much more than a speck. A tiny, white fleck in the wide blue sky above us. Our 4×4 lurched to a halt as Yahia, the driver, peered through the 10 inches of windscreen scraped clean of the mud that camouflaged the rest of the vehicle. Then we were off again, lurching over the […]


June 2, 2009

Steve McCurry on becoming a photographer

Steve McCurry is one of my favourite photographers. Famous for his images of Asia, his work is always a pleasure to come back to. His richly-textured collection South Southeast is one of just a handful of photo books to have carved out a space on the small bookcase in our living room. Perhaps more importantly, […]


June 2, 2009

On Bruce Riedel

By now Bruce Riedel is pretty well-known, so I’ll spare you the CV: intimately involved in US foreign affairs in this general area (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Central Asia etc) he helped run one of the reviews of Afghan policy that Obama requested at the beginning of the year.  Nowadays he’s still quite active; writing, advising […]


June 2, 2009

Magnanimous Mahinda and the Foreign Media Mob

Some little man in a Colombo cafe started shouting abuse at me the other day. I don’t know him, and I don’t know why. That sort of thing is very rare here, but perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, given the current "you’re either with us or against us" climate. The vast majority of the Sri […]


May 12, 2009

Battle of the Queens

The YouTube Queen of Jordan has taken another step towards becoming the world’s most technologically connected Royal. She’s now posting minute-by-minute updates on Twitter. In a couple of days she’s rocketed up from a handful of followers to around four thousand. So far, we’ve heard of her ariel acrobatics, as her husband pilots the royal […]


May 1, 2009

Nationalist party quits government, prepares for municipal election

Nothing is ever simple in the South Caucasus, and no sooner had world leaders hailed a ground-breaking announcement from Armenia and Turkey that might set the scene for the normalization of relations between the two estranged neighbors, than nationalists throughout the region became agitated. Here in Yerevan, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation — Dashanktsutyun, for example, […]


May 1, 2009

Video: Mexico City vendors feel the effects of swine flu

You can’t have failed to notice that Mexico is in the grip of a swine flu outbreak. Schools, museums and theaters are shut, people have been warned by the government not to kiss or shake hands when they say hello, and around half the people on the street are walking around wearing surgical face masks. […]


May 1, 2009

May you live long, but not here

"Ayubowan", is the first word a visitor to Sri Lanka hears on arrival. These days one could be forgiven for thinking it means something very rude. It doesn’t, and the increasingly rare tourist would probably not suspect any hostility behind the still ever-present smiles. Until, that is, she or he makes the mistake of picking […]


May 1, 2009

Welcome to the axis of evil

It’s a devastating critique. Syria is being kept in the dark ages because of a lack of American culture, and poor access to the internet argues a Gulf-based journalist. "Less fortunate young Syrians who [didn’t go to the American school] used to look forward to movie night at the [American] Cultural Centre every Wednesday. … […]


May 1, 2009

A Confession

OK, I’ve been found out. I don’t know how many people have died in Darfur. This was helpfully pointed out by Guy Gabriel on the Making Sense of Darfur blog… The use of these figures in the media is inconsistent; both individual journalists and newspapers themselves vary in the numbers they use. For example, a […]


April 24, 2009

Welcome to the axis of evil

It’s a devastating critique. Syria is being kept in the dark ages because of a lack of American culture, and poor access to the internet argues a Gulf-based journalist. "Less fortunate young Syrians who [didn’t go to the American school] used to look forward to movie night at the [American] Cultural Centre every Wednesday. … […]


April 21, 2009

‘Cabbage Revolution’ Wilts

Under stony skies, a dirge-like ballad droned from the speakers outside the Georgian parliament: an appropriate soundtrack for the seventh day of opposition protests in Tbilisi. A series of opposition leaders was greeted by polite applause as they raged against Mikheil Saakashvili, the president who has refused to offer them his head on a pike. […]


April 21, 2009

Photographing the G20: A tough day at the office

The furore over police attitudes to protesters and police during the G20 protests in London at the start of this month rages on, with clear sides beginning to emerge in the debate. If the police had hoped the focus on their tactics would abate as the dust settled on the protests, the death of Ian […]


April 21, 2009

A new nuke plant for Brazil

A third nuclear plant is to be built in Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro state, after 23 years. The construction will start over the next few weeks, according to Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, president of Electronuclear, the state company responsible for thermoelectric energy in Brazil. The new nuclear plant is part of the […]


April 14, 2009

Citizen media and the Tbilisi protests

We’ve heard a lot about the use of social networking sites and services such as Twitter and Facebook by political activists in the past week, but opposition protests in Georgia have also shown that they are valuable tools in the hands of student and professional journalists alike. As an editor for Global Voices Online, a site which […]


April 14, 2009

Cambodia less stable than Iraq and Afghanistan?

There’s a report going around in Cambodia that everyone it seems can’t stop talking about: The Economist puts Cambodia in the Top 5 of countries most at risk of social unrest as the economic crisis deepens. The announcement was such a blow, it seems everyone has protested. The prime minister mentions the report every chance […]


April 14, 2009

The myth of the Moldova ‘Twitter revolution’

According to the BBC thousands of protesters descended on Moldova’s parliament building yesterday to demonstrate against the Communist Party’s victory in last Sunday’s elections. The protesters are thought to be primarily made up of students and young people who claim the results of the election were fradulent despite being approved by election monitors. Twitter Unsurprisingly […]


April 14, 2009

Scrap collectors and the crisis

The current financial crisis has found its way to unimaginable places. While most Brazilians remain optimistic – after all the crisis was created far, far away from here by economies much more dependant on the financial markets – the fact is that it has brought consequences to many people who don’t even know what the […]


April 4, 2009

Testing my kit for mobile reporting in Africa

So, you’ve brought your smart phone with you to a country like Nigeria, brimming with all your favourite apps for social media and live video streaming. Will everything work? Well sort of, inshallah. Recently while training radio journalists in Kano in Nigeria’s north, I used a variety of applications to get an indication of how […]


April 4, 2009

Nagorno Karabakh: Blogs, social networking sites cross ethnic fault lines

In May, Armenia and Azerbaijan will mark the 15th anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire agreement which put the conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh, a mainly ethnic Armenian-populated autonomous oblast situated within Azerbaijan, on hold. Since then, international mediators continue to talk of a lasting peace agreement being in reach, but few following the […]


April 1, 2009

Account of shootout in Police Training School, Lahore.

Munawan, Lahore: After 3/3, 30/3 was another event, filled with tragedy infused with confusion and terror. Lahore isn’t too used to taking all this. 7:30AM – 30/3: Another Terrorist attack—After Sri Lankan team, this time on Police Training school in Munawa, some 14 KM from Lahore, more towards Wagha Border between India and Pakistan. Flew […]


March 31, 2009

The Khmer Rouge trial gets substantial

I witnessed today the first day of substantive hearing of Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, the former chairman of the famed Phnom Penh detention center S-21 who was charged (among other things) with crimes against humanity. (From 1975 to 1979, under the Khmer Rouge, at least 12,380 men, women and children died at […]


March 30, 2009

Wait and See…

Tribal elders in Kandahar like to explain how they’re waiting to see what will happen before committing themselves to any particular ‘side’.  Well, we’ve all been waiting to hear from President Obama on his grand plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan – or the latest neologism, ‘Af-Pax’.  Two days ago, finally, we heard. In the words […]