To mark the opening of “Reporting Vietnam,” three veteran journalists shared their memories of covering the Vietnam War to a special invitation-only audience May 21 at the Newseum. Bob Schieffer, Peter Arnett and David Hume Kennerly spoke on a panel moderated by CBS’s Margaret Brennan about their time in Vietnam and compared their experiences then to reporting from conflict zones today.
Schieffer was a 28-year-old reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram when he was sent to Vietnam to seek out and write stories about hometown heroes for the paper. “I’ll never forget walking up to a Marine in full battle gear, and I said, ‘Your mom asked me to come see how you were,’ and he broke out bawling,” Schieffer remembered.
Arnett reported from Vietnam for the Associated Press for 13 years and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1966. He shared memories of talking with soldiers who had seen the stories he wrote because family members had clipped them from their local papers and sent them to Vietnam. “They knew exactly what we were writing,” he said. “The GIs were always happy to see us.”
Kennerly won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography for his images capturing quieter moments of the Vietnam War. He has since covered conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he remarked on the differences reporting from Vietnam compared to today. “Soldiers are afraid to talk to the press now,” he said. “They’re afraid if they’re seen talking to the press, they could get in trouble. It’s really too bad. The press is definitely not their enemy.”
The program featured an all-star guest list of journalists, Vietnam vets, politicians and other VIPs. During the audience Q&A session, former CNN anchor Bernard Shaw and U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) took the microphone to ask probing questions of the panel. At an exclusive reception following the program, guests were invited to preview the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit; some of the veteran journalists in attendance and their family members posed for photos with artifacts they loaned to the Newseum for the exhibit.
“Reporting Vietnam” is on display at the Newseum through Sept. 12, 2016.
Contributing support for the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit is provided by CBS Corporation, in memory of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon.