THIS HARROWING sentiment was said by Vaughan Smith during the Afghanistan conference – ‘Are we embedding the truth?’ held at Coventry University earlier this week, in one of many speeches held by numerous high profile speakers across the industry. Writes Robert Williams
Vaughan, a news pioneer and independent video journalist who ran freelance news agency Frontline News TV and founded the Frontline Club, has in the past managed to bluff his way into an active duty unit while disguised as a British Army officer, to shoot the only uncontrolled footage of the cold war.
The above quote was but one of many points Vaughan made during the conference which highlights the negative impacts of embedded journalism in Afghanistan.
At one point during his speech he held up two pictures, one of the instantly recognisable Hiroshima bomb mushroom cloud, and the other of an injured civilian in Nagasaki.
He says that the problem with embedded journalism is that you never see enough of the injured or any devastating side effects. By only showing audiences the aforementioned Mushroom cloud and other ‘Bang Bang’ imageries, victims are never seen, which he calls: “a fundamental problem.”
He added: “At the moment, the military wants to show us war is cost free – but it isn’t.”
Brigadier Mark van der Lande, head of Operational Communication of the Ministry of Defence, reasons in his speech that they don’t instantly show casualty because they have a duty to inform next of kin first, adding that: “we are not hiding things for the cost of war; we are looking out for individuals.”
He says it is difficult for the MoD because the ‘Bang Bang’ is what the audience and the media in general is interested in, most of the time the more important things that the Military looks into aren’t release simply because: “it is of less interest to the media and the audience.”
By Robert Williams