Special Guest: Director Thomas D. Herman will join us for a discussion of the film.
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 PRESIDENT’S 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.
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.
Special Guest: Thomas D. Herman
DATELINE-SAIGON is produced and directed by Boston-based filmmaker, Thomas D. Herman, a Co-Producer of the Emmy-award winning feature film “Live From Baghdad” starring Michael Keaton and Helena Bonham-Carter. Herman spent twelve years researching, filming, and interviewing over 50 writers, photojournalists, radio and television correspondents, government officials, historians, and others for this project. “The film is about a group of journalists who risked their lives to bring back a story no one wanted revealed.” Telling the truth about what was happening in Vietnam, Herman says, illustrated a shift away from traditional media support of any US war effort. “It was a revolution in attitude and a revolution in how news was distributed and how news was consumed.” But after the Vietnam War journalists never again gained the access they had there. “Reporters were shut out of every war since Vietnam,” CBS newsman Morley Safer says in the film.
Herman’s interest in the story began after reading David Halberstam’s seminal book, The Best and the Brightest. “I had always been curious about the heated controversy surrounding his reporting and that of others critical of the war. Was their reporting fair? Were these reporters responsible for our “losing” the war? I was a CNN field producer in Vietnam during the 25th anniversary of the end of the war in 2000. While there, I met a number of men and women who had covered the war, some still working reporters, some back in Saigon for a journalists reunion. The stories I heard on that trip of how the war was reported were dramatic and moving, and the reporters themselves were compelling and interesting characters. These reporters wrote the first draft of one of the most important and controversial chapters in American history. The stories behind that first draft are fascinating and largely unknown. It is also an exciting adventure story, a story of both personal and national coming of age and loss of innocence.”