On 23 March American journalist James Kirchick wrote an article in Spectator Life about The Frontline Club in London accusing it of becoming a “den of swagger and lefty self-regard” going on to personally attack its founder Vaughan Smith and his relationship with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
Roy Greenslade, a media commentator for The Guardian and Frontline Club member described the article as “an ill-argued self-serving hatchet job without much evidence and without any merit” in his column on Tuesday.
Vaughan Smith wrote a right to reply for the magazine but the Spectator’s editor, Toby Young, suggested a much shorter and heavily edited version. Smith considered this to be unacceptable and withdrew his piece. As well as questioning the motives of the article, which Kirchick himself described as a “take down”, Smith wrote:
Kirchick criticises me for failing freelancers, advising me that I would do “more of a service to freelancers if” I hosted “serious discussion about the ethical traps of conflict reporting,” which he feels includes “the temptation to make stuff up.”
His article ignored Frontline Club funding of the Frontline Freelance Register, which I launched with young freelancers who, for very little pay, take the risks needed to cover today’s conflicts.
Read Vaughan Smith’s right of reply here. (Guardian)
Smith also published the suggested edits and cuts that Young made to his original submission on his blog.
Read Young’s suggested edits and cuts here. (vaughansmith.com)
Smith obtained the email exchanged between Young and Kirchick discussing the piece and published them on his blog to illustrate that Kirchick’s piece was ‘a politically motivated hit job’. Smith also published an email exchange between Kirchick and Frontline Club member Sam Kiley, who rejected Kirchick’s claims of left wing bias and defended the Frontline Club.
Read the email exchanges here. (vaughansmith.com)
The EJN’s director, Aidan White, is a member of the Frontline Club.