The Rory Peck Trust speech in full
I’m not sure of Vaughan Smith’s speech at the Rory Peck Trust Awards last week was filmed or whether it will appear online at all, so here it is pasted in full below. Vaughan was a finalist for his blogged reporting from Helmand Province. All the finalists in the awards are allowed to give a short speech,
I went to Afghanistan because I thought that the British public were failing to take ownership of that war. I wanted to start a video news blog for the Frontline Club. So I blogged and tweeted from Helmand, broadcasting to my own online channels. I followed it up on my return with events at the Frontline Club, stimulating further press interest.
But is not my blogging and tweeting that got me here tonight. I am here tonight because on my return I sold some of my video to BBC Newsnight. I am grateful to Peter Barron, who was then editor, for enabling a collaboration that worked for me. I got a larger audience on my online channels, with content that has been viewable for a year, than from the Newsnight broadcast.
The news has changed. Independent videojournalists can now broadcast themselves. It is no longer appropriate to prize us just for what we deliver to support the output of established broadcasters.
In an age where we see citizen journalism and an explosion of blogging, good journalism needs to be encouraged wherever it is found. We are all journalists if we strive to be fair and accurate. It is not an exclusive club. We are not second class journalists because we choose to fund our own journalism and don’t serve a brand.
I am disappointed that after 20 years as an independent freelance, having in that time opened and closed Rory Peck’s agency, Frontline News, that the independent fringe is still â€¦just that.
We picked up small format, consumer, cameras because we thought that they would enable us to bring to television news a model that has enriched photojournalism since Magnum introduced it. But the loneliness of our style of journalism and our disproportionately spilt blood haven’t earned us the place we so badly wanted in our profession. We failed, and the reason that we failed? Because however hard we tried we could never get credited for our work. As every photojournalist knows only too well, without recognition you can’t build a successful career.
I have been shot more times than I have been credited by the BBC. In fact I was shot once while filming with the BBC. The shooting itself of course made up a significant part of the news report. I was referred to as “our cameraman” as if I was some damaged bit of equipment.
I believe there is a better future for us. And if broadcasters would credit freelance material properly, over time we would begin to be paid what we are worth. We could build our own agencies and take better care of our own safety.
We all know that news output suffers from too few sources. Why not reveal additional ones, rather than perceiving them as a threat to the brand. And when that brand is publicly funded should that alter its responsibility to us?
What are the values of a journalism brand if they don’t contain the word fair? Can you be fair to the subjects of your journalism but not to us and still be who you think you are?
Too often the freelance on the team is forgotten when the gongs get handed out. Too often reporters win awards for work containing footage bought for a few hundred dollars without even a mention.
We have respected you, learned from you and sought to emulate you in so many ways. It is mean to present our contribution as yours. Without the recognition that we deserve we spill our blood anonymously, consigned to the margins. Trodden underfoot by an industry filled with people that believe that they are better than that. You are, we are.
The winners of the Impact Award were Jung In Taek and Han Yong Ho for their report from North Korea – Korea: Out of the North. The Rory Peck Award for News went to Abdullahi Farah Duguf for his report, Two weeks in Mogadishu and the Features Award went to Tim Hetherington’s The Other War shot in Afghanistan.