Southeast Asia, 1960’s. Flash point of the Cold War. Dateline-Saigon tells the inspiring story of a small group of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists — The New York Times’s David Halberstam, United Press International’s Neil Sheehan, The Associated Press’s Malcolm Browne, Peter Arnett, and the great photojournalist Horst Faas — who fought to report a truth that was vastly different from the rosy version put forth by the White House and the Pentagon during the early years of the Vietnam War…even as their own government sought to discredit them.
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.
Narrated by Sam Waterston, the documentary combines the drama and high stakes of All the President’s Men with the romance and intrigue of The Year of Living Dangerously.
— 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.
— Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker