Dateline-Saigon | Synopsis
Dateline-Saigon is a powerful, haunting documentary about 5 journalists reporting the truth about the Vietnam War
Dateline-Saigon, documentary, Vietnam War, reporting, reporters, journalism, Thomas D. Herman, David Halberstam, Malcolm Browne, Neil Sheehan, Peter Arnett, Horst Faas, John F. Kennedy, President Kennedy, New York Times, Associated Press, United Press International
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Synopsis

Dateline-Saigon profiles five Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists — The New York Times’s David Halberstam; The Associated Press’s Malcolm Browne, Peter Arnett, and the legendary photojournalist Horst Faas; and United Press International’s Neil Sheehan.

With all the high-stakes drama of All the Presidents Men, the film chronicles their controversial and groundbreaking reporting during the early years of the Vietnam War as President Kennedy is secretly committing US troops to what is initially dismissed by some as a “nice little war in a land of tigers and elephants.” Five young reporters took on a superpower — and who won?

Involuntarily, they are drawn into a war of their own that pits the journalists against government officials and ushers in a new era of journalism that seeks to hold the government accountable.

We all arrived rather innocent. We didn't think we were innocent. I thought I was an experienced reporter, but I'd never had this kind of thing before.

— David Halberstam, The New York Times

Today we know the story’s end, but few realized then how important their reporting was, and how our protagonists and their colleagues continue to serve as role models for today’s front-line reporters around the globe.

Dateline-Saigon illuminates the difficulties of reporting war by focusing on America’s most important and controversial case study: Vietnam, the war that established many of the ground rules for coverage of wars that followed and ignited an antagonism between the media and the military that unfortunately endures. The parallels to the challenges journalists face in reporting today’s conflicts — and the consequences of not getting the story out — will become disturbingly obvious to the viewer.

Dateline-Saigon is geared to generations born after the Vietnam War as well as to the generation that lived through it but never knew the personal sacrifices made to report the truth — a struggle today’s reporters continue to face. The “Saigon Boys” have much to teach us about reporting the truth in the face of government resistance.

Dateline-Saigon was filmed over a 12 year period in the United States, the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Vietnam, and Iraq. The film features multiple interviews with key characters, some of whom are no longer living, and rare archival motion picture and still photographs, some of which come from private archives and will be seen publicly for the first time.

In Iraq, when the official version didn't match what we were seeing on the streets of Baghdad, all we had to do —— and we did it a lot —— was ask ourselves: what would Halberstam have done? And then the way was clear. David taught us a great lesson —— and not just to the reporters in Iraq, but to anyone who has ever tried to hold his government to account. And that is, the truth is not just a point of view. Truth does not adhere to the person who shouts the loudest. And truth does not necessarily belong to the people with the most power... David is a role model for many who report from conflicts around the world.

— Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker

Pulitzer Prize winning journalists
Journalists who have all received Pulitzer Prizes -awards- for their work on Vietnam, at Elaine's in NYC. from left to right: - David Halberstam, author of best selling books "The Best & the Brightest" & "The Powers That Be" - Peter Arnett, author of "Live from the Battlefield" - Malcolm Browne, currently a science correspondent for the New York Times - Horst Faas, now European photo editor for the Associated Press - Neil Sheehan, author of "A Bright Shining Lie" 1995 © Annie LEIBOVITZ (CONTACT PRESS IMAGES) 1995 © Annie LEIBOVITZ (CONTACT PRESS IMAGES)
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