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Vaughan Smith

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Vaughan Smith
Journalist and Founder of the Frontline Club

Vaughan Smith is a news pioneer who founded the Frontline Club in London in 2003 as an institution to champion independent journalism and promote better understanding of international news and its coverage. In his capacity as owner of Frontline he is journalist, businessman and restaurateur. During the 1990s Vaughan worked as an awardwinning independent cameraman and video news journalist covering wars and conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Kosovo and elsewhere.

During that time he also ran Frontline Television News, an agency set up to represent the interests of young journalists who wanted to push the envelope of their profession. During those turbulent years, which began with the fall of Communism and lasted until 9/11, Frontline freelances captured some of the best conflict footage around the world. Vaughan himself filmed the only uncontrolled footage of the Gulf War in 1991, after he bluffed his way into an active-duty unit while disguised as a British Army officer.

The risks that Frontline journalists took were great and nine members or former members were killed while working in the field. The Frontline Club is dedicated to their memory. Vaughan, himself, was shot twice but escaped both times with light injuries. The workings of Frontline Television News captured the imagination of a generation of young freelances. Its history has recently been detailed in a book “Frontline: The True Story of the British Mavericks who Changed the Face of War Reporting,” by David Loyn of the BBC. During Vaughan’s time as a freelance he worked for many of the world’s leading television stations and became an advocator of greater support for freelances operating in war zones. He has worked as an instructor on journalist safety programmes.

As a freelance cameraman Vaughan won, either individually or as part of a team, 28 news awards. Many of them for “The Valley”, a film which Vaughan produced about the Kosovo War, which remains the most acclaimed documentary ever shown on the UK’s Channel 4 Television. Prior to setting up Frontline, Vaughan was briefly a microlight test pilot and cameraman. Before that he was an officer in the British Army’s Grenadier Guards, serving in Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Germany. He captained the British Army shooting team and won the interarmy rifle shooting championship.

Vaughan also owns and runs a sustainable mixed farm in eastern England, specialising in pedigree rare-breed pigs, which provides the produce for the Frontline Restaurant. As the founder of Frontline, he is in charge of the management of a three million pound enterprise, and employs more than 40 people. 2007, Vaughan was the joint winner of a Guardian Media Innovation Award and in 2008 a Rory Peck Award finalist for his independent blog from Afghanistan. A vocal advocate of freelance journalism, at the Rory Peck Awards he announced that having provided them material for 15 years he had 'been shot more times than he had been credited by the BBC'.


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