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
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 — TheNew York Times’s David Halberstam, United Press International’s Neil Sheehan, The Associated Press’sMalcolm 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.
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.