Frontline Club bloggers

December 12, 2011

Five links from 2011: ‘War Reporting’

This year I bookmarked at least 530 links on delicious. I know that because I try to tag each bookmark by year – I’m three hundred or so links down on last year’s total of 854. Seeing as we’re coming to the end of the year I thought I’d pick out a few of the […]


December 8, 2011

BBC Azeri: Reflections on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict

  The BBC’s Azerbaijani Service has published a gallery of my photographs taken in the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh in 1994. Over 25,000 people were killed in the war waged in the early 1990s and a million forced to flee their homes. Since a ceasefire agreement was signed in 1994 attempts to mediate a […]


December 7, 2011

Sahara reporters

 I’m really impressed by this journalist website ‘Sahara Reporters’ – http://saharareporters.com  – having heard their founder Omoyele Sowore speaking recently on UK media. They’re a Nigerian news website based in the US who focus on citizen journalism and getting ordinary people to write and create reports about issues such as corruption and bad political management. […]


December 7, 2011

Russian blogger arrested after post-election protests

Russian blogger and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has been arrested after participating in post-election protests in Moscow against the Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.  The BBC has a good profile of Navalny which explains how his Livejournal blog gained traction for exposing corruption: "The popularity of his blog allowed him to start mobilising internet users to take an active part in […]


November 29, 2011

hopes and fears for Durban

It’s been hard journalistically to generate much excitement about the climate change talks currently taking place in Durban, South Africa. Even the name is a complete put-off – COP17 – I suppose it was meant to be catchy… but the acronym stands for the achingly dull ‘Conference of Parties 17’. Yes, that’s the seventeenth time world leaders have […]


November 10, 2011

lessons from Tunisia?

It’s generally agreed that the Tunisian elections went well – the results have been accepted, as has the moderate Islamist party En-nahda’s new power on the political scene. The process has been praised both within the country, and by international democracy monitoring bodies. I’m currently writing an article for BBC Focus on Africa magazine about what […]


November 10, 2011

Twitter memorial for members of the Canadian Forces

  The Ottawa Citizen has started a memorial Twitter account for members of the Canadian Forces who have lost their lives in conflict. The account will tweet the name of one service member at 11 minutes past every hour. The name is chosen at random by a computer from a list of more than 119,000 Canadians killed […]


November 2, 2011

Tunisian journalism

I recently returned from a great trip to Tunisia to report on the country’s first democratic election. I had many fascinating discussions there with journalists about the challenges of working in a new system. Over super-powered coffee in the hundreds of smart cafes on the central Avenue Habib Bourguiba, I met journalists from independent agencies, Radio 6 Tunis, La Presse and […]


October 29, 2011

Time to fly a kite for Afghanistan’s future

The glass encrusted string of a cheap paper kite sliced chunks of flesh out of my fingers when I tried Afghanistan’s national sport on a recent windy Friday in Kabul. Like much of what goes on in Afghanistan, kite flying is complex and violent. In what is essentially a fight to the death, the aim […]


October 20, 2011

BBC Editor says he was advised to pull journalists from Libya by Foreign Office

On the eve of the fall of Sirte, the BBC’s World News Editor has revealed that the Foreign Office “strongly recommended” to broadcasters that they pull their journalists out of Libya prior to the start of NATO’s bombing campaign. Speaking at yesterday evening’s Frontline Club event on the pressures of reporting conflict, Jon Williams said […]


October 14, 2011

RSF sets up in Tunisia

I’m currently in Tunis, reporting on the upcoming elections for an assembly which will be charged with writing a new constitution following January’s Jasmine Revolution http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15137787 I’m pleased to see that Reporters Sans Frontieres have been able to open a permanent office in Tunis to support journalists during the transition to democracy. For years Tunisia was […]


October 12, 2011

Notes on ‘Libya and the Arab Spring’ at the Media Society

So yesterday I tried to fit too many things at too many different places into one day and ended up being late for the Media Society event on reporting Libya and the ‘Arab Spring’.  But here are a few incomplete notes on the panel discussion… 1. BBC vs Sky News reporting of Tripoli I think […]


October 11, 2011

Afghanistan: once again the saddest place on earth

The siege of Qala-I-Jangi on the outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif in late November 2001 resulted in one of the most horrific war atrocities of the modern age. The massacre raised questions about the commitment of Afghanistan’s new rulers and their international sponsors to the rule of law, and cemented General Abdul Rashid Dostum’s reputation as a […]


October 5, 2011

Mogadishu Bomb

Yet again brutal and senseless carnage has been wreaked on innocent Somali people, already facing the arduous task of staying alive in what surely must be the worst country on earth. At least seventy people were killed when a car bomb exploded in Mogadishu – suspected to have been planted by the Islamist militant group […]


October 3, 2011

Reporting the Arab Spring: the mirage of the ‘authentic voice’

I’m breaking the radio silence on the blog to post the introduction to my latest book chapter for Mirage in the Desert: Reporting the Arab Spring. (Not to be confused with Mirage in the Dessert…that is something entirely different.) My chapter uses the case of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog, (a hoax which purported […]


September 27, 2011

Euro crisis and Africa

I’ve just had a fascinating discussion with the chief economist of the African Development Bank about the impact the eurozone crisis may have on Africa.  It’s a very popular question right now, and Mthuli Ncube is hoping that his optimism is well-placed. In brief, according to Ncube, Africa should be ok as long as economic […]


September 16, 2011

Have you heard of 9/11?

  By now, I’ll guess we’ve all heard pretty much enough about 9/11, but if you didn’t catch a glimpse of the short film I made, entitled "Have you Heard of 9/11?", the link below is to the version that aired on PBS Newshour recently. Similar short edits also aired on Channel Four News in […]


September 15, 2011

last thought on Niger and Gadaffi

Little did I know Niger was going to be thrown into the headlines as much as it was last week when a lone French military source quoted by Reuters suggested that Colonel Gadaffi may be planning his escape route across the vast, unpoliced desert border between Libya, Niger and Algeria. I’d deliberately chosen Niger for […]


September 8, 2011

Ten years after 9/11, from pre-emptive attack to liberal interventionism

I was on a train in northwest China, from Urumqi, provincial capital of Xinjiang, to the oasis town of Kashgar when the atrocities of 9-11 happened ten years ago. The region borders largely Islamic Central Asia — including Pakistan and Afghanistan — and is the homeland of China’s ethnic Uighur Muslims. On the dot of […]


September 6, 2011

Just returned from meeting journalists in Niger

The future seems bright for the Nigerien media. Local media are flourishing – there are around 230 radio stations (many of them community radio stations funded by donor money), four TV channels and about 100 newspapers. The advent of democracy (Mahamadou Issoufou was elected in a peaceful poll in February this year), has enshrined gains […]


August 25, 2011

Full results: Frontline Club phone hacking survey

In late July Frontline Club asked its members to share their thoughts on the ongoing phone hacking scandal. The resulting survey showed that there was broad agreement on a range of issues – from opposition to statutory regulation of the press, to the role of investigative journalism and the need for a new code of […]


August 22, 2011

Libya: Reporting the advance on Tripoli

Rebel forces have jubilantly entered the Libyan capital Tripoli, although fighting still continues in several parts of the city. For a round up of the latest news check out this list on the Small Wars Journal website. Here are a few articles that have caught my eye relevant to the reporting of the rebel advance. […]


August 19, 2011

What is the role of investigative journalism?

In late July, Frontline Club launched a survey prompted by the fallout of the ongoing phone hacking scandal. The full results have now been published, and can be found here. As part of the survey, we asked people to tell us what they thought was the role of investigative journalism. The excellent responses, a cross […]


August 18, 2011

Frontline Club phone hacking survey

Frontline Club asked its members in July to share their thoughts on the ongoing phone hacking scandal. The results, detailed below, make for interesting reading. They show that, of those who have responded to the survey so far, there is broad agreement on a range of issues – from opposition to statutory regulation, to the […]


August 16, 2011

US Navy “burning the boats” to join social media conversation

A speech on the US Navy’s approach to communications by Admiral Gary Roughead has surfaced in my Twitter feed. The Admiral is the US Chief of Naval Operations and he gave these remarks to a Public Relations Strategic Communications Summit in June. The general message is that the US Navy realised it could no longer […]


August 15, 2011

Meeting Moussa Kaka

The headquarters of Moussa Kaka’s relatively new enterprise Saraounia Radio (it means ‘the Queen’ in Hausa) is an unassuming tiled building in downtown Niamey, capital of Niger. Inside the radio station too, it’s modest. They have a few computers with digital editing software and an air-conditioned studio; antennae and a multitude of satellite links connecting […]


August 11, 2011

The role of social media in the UK riots

"The ability to communicate to groups of people easily and on a regular basis is more powerful than previous incarnations of ‘word of mouth’ technologies." Click here for more on the BBC College of Journalism website…


August 5, 2011

visa politics

I cried, I swore, I banged my head off the kitchen working top and then lay awake all night worrying, but finally I did get my visa for Niger. It was a wonderful meeting of bureaucracy, ‘Escroquerie’ as they say, and British officiousness. I should have paid attention to the warning bells when I found […]


August 2, 2011

BBC journalist detained in Egypt

The BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil has been arrested in Egypt while reporting from Cairo. She had travelled to Tahrir Square after Egyptian security forces had moved in to clear the area of protesters. The demonstrators have been demanding swifter political change from Egypt’s military generals amid concerns that the revolution which brought down President Hosni Mubarak […]


July 31, 2011

The effect social media is having on African newsgathering

Following on from my last blog post about how hand-held video cameras are transforming the way reporters in Africa are doing their jobs, I thought it’s also worth looking at the effect social media is having on African newsgathering. The picture is completely mixed across the continent. There are some countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya […]