Bloody legend Rod Vaughan tells all
It is refreshing to see a book by a seasoned journalist who values the use of simple, straightforward questions to get revealing answers.
Veteran television journalist Rod Vaughan’s Bloodied But Not Beaten – a marketing hook to the celebrated left hook he copped when he dropped in uninvited on Bob Jones’ fishing patch – is not only a fascinating behind-the-scenes yarn of a truly global correspondent, it is a sharp reminder of what real journalism is about.
For more than 40 years Mr Vaughan’s award-winning assignments took him not only all over New Zealand but to every corner of the world to cover the biggest stories of the day.
From his well-documented clobbering by New Zealand Party founder Bob Jones in the upper reaches of the Tongariro River – a fearless encounter which made him one of television’s “bloody legends” – to a host of hair-raising and life-threatening ecapades in foreign parts Mr Vaughan was there to bring the news home.
He and his crew cover pre-democractic elections at gun point in South Africa, stroll the lawns of the Duchess of Bedford’s Woburn Abbey, get the inside bully from Andy McNab on an ill-fated SAS mission in Iraq and risk their lives assessing the consequences in Pakistan just 24 hours after the 9/11 attacks on America.
To get the best stories he put the heat on the Irish economic tiger, took a dip in Mururoa Atoll during anti-nuclear test protests and “conned” his way into a golf round with Fiji coup leader Major General Sitiveni Rabuka.
There was still time for the big stories at home such as Bill Sutch and a succession of Russian spies, the demise of corporate high-flyers such as Goldcorp’s Ray Smith, the exposure of German conman Ralf Simon, David Gray’s Aramoana massacre and the still nagging Peter Ellis Christchurch civic creche scandal.
Mr Vaughan’s book is sprinkled with direct lifts from interviews which made big television news, all of which demonstrate his well-researched grasp of the topic and his trademark “what happened next?” style.
But this book is much more than a swing down memory lane.
As one of New Zealand’s best television journalists, he weaves his own experiences of how the many headline stories came about with his personal reflections on the back-stories of poverty, deprivation, violence, corruption and intrigue so common in news zones.
He is also not afraid to take swipes at the dumbing down of television news and current affairs, the demise of investigative reporting and the tacky emergence of so-called “celebrity” journalists.
Mr Vaughan’s journalism is proudly of a time when the story – not the reporter - came first, which is a far cry from the current breed of television’s heavily-marketed show ponies.
A good and enlightening read.
Bloodied But Not Beaten is published by David Ling Publishing and will be launched on Monday. NBR ONLINE will publish extracts during the Christmas holiday period.
Rod Vaughan reinvented himself this year as a part-time reporter for NBR ONLINE, applying his talents to secure exclusive stories such as one-off interviews with disgraced Lombard chairman Sir Douglas Graham and fresh-out-of-jail Nathans Finance’s Roger Moses.