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 […]

October 17, 2006

Chainsaws and Capuccinos – 17/10/06

I stood there facing our latest purchase. A logging truck load of timber. That’s maybe 20 chords of wood. A huge amount. Even with our three greedy woodstoves it might last us two or three years. The logs lay silently, almost solemnly, on a forgotten edge of our property, hard on the mountainside. Now all […]

September 29, 2006

Inside Out – October 06

Every so often at the Frontline Club there’s a debate that underscores why Vaughan Smith decided to establish it in the first place. That debate took place at the tribute to Martin Adler, the Swedish freelance, who was shot dead in Mogadishu in June. The debate centred on whether broadcasters or news agencies had a […]

September 26, 2006

The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq

Patrick Cockburn’s latest book, The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq opens with the following words: “It has been the strangest war.  It had hardly begun in 2003 when President George W. Bush announced on May 1 that it was over: the American mission had been accomplished. Months passed before Washington and London realised that […]

September 26, 2006

On Release

You just know when the Head of News for the company your husband freelances for tracks you down at a Damascus hotel late in the evening that he’s not ringing to offer you a job. You know as the unfamiliar TV executive hastily introduces himself that he’s calling you with extremely bad news. Probably to […]

September 24, 2006

Convergent Lines

Revolutions aren’t unusual subjects for the Frontline Club. The walls are thick with them. Though while we nurse our drinks under the portrait of Pinochet, we might not notice the revolution happening around us, borne on the club’s wifi signal. The internet revolution is back on and this time it’s for real: based on genuine […]

September 4, 2006

Feet in both camps (1)

In the July war in Lebanon we could never see the danger coming from the Israeli warplanes or know when they might suddenly strike. It made for apprehension, moments of  terror and lots of black humour. There was the constant roar overhead day and night. Then there was the constant buzz of the drones. Like […]

August 21, 2006

Inside Out – September 06

When a senior editor at one of Britain’s leading newspapers was called and invited as a guest to one of our events he said that he’d never set foot in the Frontline Club and called it a “wanky concept”. It is tempting to name the editor involved but I will follow the common UK practice […]

August 17, 2006

Feet in both camps (2)

When you arrive in Israel as a journalist, you have to make your way to the Government Press Office in Jerusalem to get a press card. It’s a pretty routine bit of bureaucracy – a few forms in exchange for official accreditation. Among the forms you sign is one promising that you’ll obey the rules […]

July 22, 2006

Teutons and Moosery – 22/07/06

It was an unexpected start to our first season. Last month, returning to the ranch one sunny afternoon, Kristin came upon three over-sized red-headed German tourists spread out comfortably in our garden around one of our refurbished picnic tables. They had unloaded their lunch onto its pristine olive-green surface – I know it was pristine […]

July 15, 2006

Inside Out – July 06

What Ron McCullagh didn’t tell you in his moving tribute to Martin Adler is that the British press didn’t even name him when they reported his death. He was a “Swedish cameraman” who was killed on assignment in Mogadishu. That’s all they wrote. British broadcasters were far more responsible and were led by Jon Snow […]

July 12, 2006

Look who’s listening

Among the momentous developments that marked the close of the 20th Century one that received less attention than most was the revelation of a new international spy ring unparalleled in its scope. This operation, known as Echelon, gave participating governments access to all the phone calls, emails,  satellite communications and cell phones around the world. […]

July 12, 2006

Body Armour

Body armour is basically a layer of clothing designed to absorb and disperse the impact energy of a bullet. Modern body armour is designed to stop low velocity (handguns) and high velocity (rifles) with some manufacturers claiming protection from some types of armour-piercing rounds. The armour comes in both semi-rigid and rigid construction incorporating a […]

July 4, 2006

Cable from Kabul

All Frontline Club members have some connection to Afghanistan it seems. The former members of the Frontline TV Agency cut their teeth in the 1980s during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. So it seems fitting that Kabul is rapidly becoming a second meeting place for club members. Peter Jouvenal established the Gandamack Lodge in early […]

June 30, 2006

Shotguns and Stallions – June 06

I really never thought it would come to this. It all began back in the distant snowbound days of March when one of our closest neighbours – wearing what look like a goat-skin – turned up on our doorstep. “Dick shot my horse,” he declared by way of introduction. After some plodding around the subject […]

June 27, 2006

In-depth Charger

Serious, in-depth journalism may be unwell but it is still alive in Britain despite an almost complete lack of institutional support in television, and limited resources in print and radio.  The definitions are many – but most would agree that investigative journalism is ‘normal’ journalism plus money and more importantly, plus time. Getting complicated, difficult […]

June 16, 2006

Frontline: The True Story of the British Mavericks who Changed the Face of War Reporting

This book is the history of a moment in television news, which was brief enough, yet so bright that it will stay in the minds of everyone who experienced it, like staring into a torch-beam on a dark night. Frontline still exists, as anyone knows if they have climbed up the steep stairs to the […]

June 15, 2006

Inside Out – May 06

Those of you who have climbed the final flight of stairs to our Frontline Forum will have seen three photographs of journalists on display. It’s an undeclared wall of honour recognising three outstanding journalists among the terrible toll that Richard Sambrook writes about this month. Kurt Schork was an exemplary American journalist admired not only […]

June 13, 2006

War and Peace

Peace Journalism is at best meaningless, and at worst a uniquely unhelpful and misleading prescription for journalism in general, and broadcast journalism in particular. Growing out of their Reporting the World series, Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick demand nothing less than a ‘revolution’ in journalism practice, using this definition in their new book: “Peace Journalism […]

June 10, 2006

A Tribute to Martin Adler

The death of Martin Adler was not a surprise. It was a terrible shock, but not, truthfully, a surprise. If a man, no matter how professional and experienced, travels as widely as Martin did to the war zones of our troubled world then, almost inevitably, something bad will happen. Life-threatening environments are where film-makers like […]

June 7, 2006

Sony HVR – Z1U

Sony HVR – Z1U I bought the Sony Z1U camera in January 2006 and have used it fairly intensely in a professional capacity as a video journalist. I have worked as a video journalist for the past 12 years principally specialising in hostile environments and countries undergoing “transition”. main features:Switchable NTSC/PAL color system, 1080/60i, 1080/50iImage […]

June 6, 2006

Not so Great Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has to be the only country in the world where helping the aged is a clandestine activity. One March morning in Bulawayo I received a cryptic SMS announcing “washing up liquid will arrive at 10.30am”. This was code for meeting the man who delivers food parcels to white pensioners. Everyone in Zimbabwe is terrified […]

June 1, 2006

Excerpts from Peace Journalism

Peace Journalism is when editors and reporters make choices – of what stories to report, and how to report them – which create opportunities for society at large to consider and to value non-violent responses to conflict. Peace Journalism: Uses the insights of conflict analysis and transformation to update the concepts of balance, fairness and […]

May 25, 2006

On the Road to Kandahar

No one knows how Britain’s Nato adventure in Afghanistan will end. Depending on who you listen to, it is either one of the most dangerous policing roles in the new age of asymmetric warfare, or a consolidation of the post-9/11 achievements of the international community. Military commanders who pick up Jason Burke’s Road to Kandahar […]

May 17, 2006

Press freedom

There is no greater threat to free societies than the murder of journalists. If journalists are not free to report, others eventually go blind: governments cannot see what’s going on at home or abroad, global institutions stagger, finance and business wither. Freedom of expression is recognized as essential to democracy and prosperity. However, 2005 was […]

May 15, 2006

The Tribes Triumphant

One of the great mysteries of our time is the awfulness of the American media. The world’s greatest nation gets its intelligence about the rest of the planet mainly from television, a medium dominated by air-headed bimbos and himbos – ‘I’m Cindy and he’s Grover’ – real-life car chases of narcoleptic tedium and the weather […]

April 30, 2006

Between the Rockies and a hard place – April 06

It had been a truly awful week. As I was driving through northern Bosnia on a routine assignment several days before the voice of my brother came through on a crackly satellite phone. He told me how RUF rebels had overrun the camps he was working at in the Sierra Leone jungle and he was […]

April 17, 2006

One Hundred Years Of Darkness

Marcus Bleasdale’s disturbing photos eloquently present the latest chapter in the Congo’s catalogue of tragedies. The Congo has always epitomised man’s inhumanity to man. King Leopold II of Belgium, responsible for perhaps as many as ten million dead during his commercial exploitation in the late 1800s, employed a very childish Christian solution to those natives […]

April 15, 2006

Inside Out – April 06

Dear Frontline Readers, A small group of us from The Frontline Club retreated recently to Vaughan Smith’s family enclave, Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, to think, among other things, imaginatively about how to build on the dramatic success of the Forum and produce a more thoughtful and challenging series of programmes. One of the things we […]

April 7, 2006

Signal failure

Is the Bush Administration revving up for an attack on Iran? In all my years as a foreign correspondent, I cannot recall a crisis when the real intentions of the American government have been so obscure. Reading the tea leaves presents a major challenge to the news media. What is clear is that the future […]