May 1, 2007

Inside Out – May 07

So would a Frontline Club and Forum work in the United States?  If so, where? In New York?  In Washington? That’s a question Vaughan and Pranvera Smith and many of us involved in the Frontline Club since its inception have asked ourselves. Not that Vaughan and Pranvera don’t have enough on their plates in Paddington […]

April 23, 2007

Glaciers and Gravel Strips 23/04/07

It’s been something of an obsession of mine ever since we first arrived at the ranch. Even before we moved in I was already pacing out the yard to see where I might put a small plane down. Every angle seemed to come with a different set of problems: one took me too close to […]

April 1, 2007

Inside Out – April 07

If you believe that newspapers should still be relied on for coverage of issues that matter then you have to be dismayed by their paltry reporting of Killing the Messenger. This was the International News Safety Institute’s (INSI) most comprehensive ever examination of the 1,000 deaths of journalists over a 10-year period. I declare an […]

March 19, 2007

Fires of Helmand

I had often wondered what it would be like to be pitched from the warm, sleep inducing sightless world of an armoured personnel carrier straight out the door into a fire fight. The moment arrived on the west bank of the River Helmand in early March with almost no warning. “Fucking hell,” a Marine corporal’s […]

March 19, 2007


Jonathan Ledgard’s first novel, Giraffe, is a strange and compelling tale set in the communist Czechoslovakia of the 1970s. The story, with its savage climax, about a herd of giraffes captured in Africa and transported to a Czechoslovak zoo is all the more haunting because it is rooted in real events. This is not a […]

March 8, 2007

More Moosery 08/03/07

Living as we do deep in the Canadian wilderness, we thought that – at least when it came to local wildlife – we had seen it all. We found a deer in our garage one morning, a black bear staring at us from just outside the kitchen window and had a grizzly mum with three […]

March 8, 2007

Kitbag: Jane Kokan

Jane Kokan is an independent news and documentary director/ reporter/ camera woman specialising in the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Iran, SE Asia and Africa working for a variety of international broadcasters. Often her films were made in extremely difficult circumstances and Jane often worked alone in the field doing her own camera work […]

March 6, 2007

The US press bites back

The recent Washington Post exposé by Dana Priest and Anne Hull of the egregious treatment of wounded troops at the military showcase Walter Reed hospital brought back memories of the aggressive watchdog coverage of the past for many. The subsequent efforts by the Pentagon to belittle or even deny the facts led to the removal […]

March 4, 2007

Afghanistan diary

In a ten day combat reconnaissance mission last week the Royal Marines of ‘J’ Company, 42 Commando, pushed into the Pashtun heartland of northern Helmand, the traditional bastion of the Taliban insurgency. Weaving between the towns of Sangin, Naw Zad and Musa Qala the marines conducted operations on a mobile patrol that covered more than […]

March 1, 2007

In Memoriam: Danny McGrory (1952 – 2007)

The Coroner said Danny McGrory had an unusually big heart. All his friends knew that – he was one of the most generous of colleagues, someone you were always pleased to be away with, reassuring personally and professionally. To those at The Times he was known as “McGrory the Story”, a reporter who could write, […]

March 1, 2007

Intifada: The Long Day of Rage (1)

The first boy was shot at around three o’clock. He was carried past, trying to be brave but sobbing with the pain of his shattered elbow. The next was shot 15 minutes later. The third was shot about 45 minutes after that. By early evening I had counted six seriously injured teenagers loaded into the […]

March 1, 2007

Economical with the truth

At the end of an IMF assessment mission to Zimbabwe last month, the IMF team leader remarked on the parlous state of Zimbabwe’s economy. He noted that inflation is the highest in the world, at 1600 percent, that 80 percent of the workforce is unemployed, that commercial agriculture has been ravaged, that a majority of […]

March 1, 2007

Inside Out – March 07

When Gary Knight and Rod Nordland appeared at the Frontline Club in February, they were just back from a Newsweek assignment in Darfur. Gary’s pictures and Rod’s narrative reminded us what a humanitarian crisis Darfur remains and how the situation continues to deteriorate while the world is not watching. In fact, Knight and Nordland represented […]

March 1, 2007

Intifada: The Long Day of Rage (2)

In the foreword to this perceptive and timely book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, David Pratt notes that amid the hatred and bitterness it has generated over the decades, both warring communities cling resolutely to “their respective narratives of victimhood.” Put another way, each has its own version of the events that have locked them together […]

February 15, 2007

Inside Out – February 07

Two years ago, CBS News introduced its “Public Eye” forum as part of its re-launched and revamped website. One of the publicity grabbing things it did was to shoot video of a CBS News editorial meeting and post it on the website. The notion was that the public could then see for itself how the […]

January 31, 2007

Winter Roads and War Stories – Jan 07

It was not an auspicious beginning. The day we were to leave our beautiful BC home and set out on a 2,000 mile winter odyssey across the frozen north we could barely open our front door. Three feet of snow had fallen overnight onto an already well-laden garden. Even reaching the snowplough was a manly […]

January 30, 2007

Web 2.0 meaning?

Web 2.0 was a phrase coined in 2004 by Dale Dougherty and Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media, a publishing and conference firm, to describe second generation internet services The phrase has made the authors a lot of coin too through their annual Web 2.0 conference for the Silicon Valley aristocracy and glitterati. But what does […]

January 28, 2007

Breaking China

A few weeks before moving to Beijing I bumped into Frontline colleague Fergal Keane.”China will be fascinating” he said, “but your problem will be to turn history into the news.” His words have echoed around my head throughout my first five months here. The explosion of capitalism in China is like nothing any of us […]

January 25, 2007

In memoriam: Juliet Crawley Peck (1961 – 2007)

Juliet Crawley Peck was beautiful, refreshing, inspiring, and exasperating in turns, a force of nature cast from some empire-building mould left over from another age. She faced with brisk equanimity the shooting of both of her husbands, the loss of an eye, and then latterly the cancer that returned to kill her. From her early […]

January 24, 2007

View from a Grain of Sand

The road to Kabul is littered with the carcasses of war – Soviet army tanks left rusting in the arid landscape, overturned buses without wheels that will never complete their journeys and the gaping wounds of bullet-ridden buildings. This is the scenery of modern Afghanistan. It is a country that has seen constant battle over […]

December 15, 2006

Inside Out – December 06

It was vintage Marie Colvin. It was 19 October and the Frontline Club  was heaving, jammed with journalists and human rights activists gathered to pay tribute to the Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya. Politkovskaya had been murdered in the lift of her apartment building in Moscow six days earlier. Emotions were running high in the Forum, […]

December 8, 2006

Snow ploughs and Santa Claus – 8/12/06

It looked wonderful in the catalogue. Yellow, gleaming, metallic – and all for a very reasonable thousand dollars or so. With funds dwindling but the first snowfall already upon us we decided to bite the bullet. Perhaps nothing defines a Canadian homesteader quite as well as the means he uses to get rid of his […]

December 6, 2006

Stream on

The online video invasion has been promised for over a decade but in 2006 it finally arrived. High broadband penetration, reduced bandwidth costs, social networking sites like MySpace and easy to use video-sharing websites such as YouTube, Google Video and Guba have all contributed to explosive growth. And while the business models of the video […]

December 2, 2006

Covering Iraq

I always have a sense of dread when I drive through Baghdad. I don’t really want it to go away because it keeps me worried and alert. I see everything in terms of potential threat. Who is manning the next checkpoint? Is it the army or police? Or are the men in uniform I see […]

November 30, 2006

Al-Jazeera English (1)

Bad news is often good news for journalists. The assassination of Lebanese opposition leader Pierre Gemayel may have been exactly that for Al-Jazeera English, the Westernized cousin of the channel the Bush administration loves to hate. It wasn’t so much that AJE triumphed in its coverage of the Lebanese event but it did show signs […]

November 24, 2006

The Kremlin and its critics – 24/11/06

For those of you who read our blog for updates on the ranch and a whiff of wilderness escape, my apologies. The recent shooting of Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce Putin critic in Russia, has left me musing on the future of that great country and a small incident shortly before I left Russia last year. […]

November 8, 2006

Journalists Under Fire:The Psychological Hazards of Covering War

Like most journalists I blow hot and cold on this question on the straightforward grounds that those who can’t stand the heat should not venture into the kitchen. I have taken part in more than one public discussion on how repeated and prolonged exposure to war affects the mental and emotional state of journalists and […]

November 6, 2006

Picture imperfect

With the notable exception of t-mobile, mobile phone operators and broadcasters are clamouring to get into the mobile TV market but is the technology ready and do consumers really want it?  At the moment most mobile TV is streamed over 2G, 2.5G or 3G networks to mobile handsets. “Unicast streaming” is the most common where […]

November 5, 2006

Al-Jazeera English (2)

Let’s start with the good things. The graphics (bought in from the same company that supplied CNN International’s new makeover) looked sprightly. In the first week, two of the flagship programmes did well.  David Frost managed to get an uncharacteristic slip out of Tony Blair on Iraq (he seemed to admit that the Iraq adventure […]

November 3, 2006

Death of a critic

It was an early morning phone call that let me know of the attack. Issa, a friend in Chechnya, his usually steady voice betraying just a tremor of fear, said unknown gunmen had opened fire on the car he had sent to collect me.  Of the two men inside, one was badly wounded. He said […]