Western governments are restricting conflict coverage: Vietnam War journalist

By Hoang Uy, Thanh Nien News

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Peter Gregg Arnett (L, 3rd) watches two Northern Vietnamese soldiers planning attacks on Saigon. Photo supplied Peter Gregg Arnett (L, 3rd) watches two Northern Vietnamese soldiers planning attacks on Saigon. Photo supplied
Pulitzer Prize winner Peter Arnett says journalists now need to be 'embedded' with military units to cover wars


An award-winning journalist believes the media nowadays has much less freedom in their coverage of military actions compared to the Vietnam War era. 
Peter Arnett, who is known for his coverage of the Vietnam War and the Gulf War, said stories and photographs of the Vietnam War were not “censored” as much as today's conflict news.
“There was no censorship of stories or photographs,” Arnett told Thanh Nien News via email on Friday.
“Our news material was sent by telex and wire-photo equipment each day. For much of the war, television film and video was shipped out to Bangkok or Tokyo for transmission to the US and Europe because these facilities were not available in Vietnam.”
The 1966 Pulitzer Prize winner said Western government officials today restrict news coverage of military actions undertaken by their troops and journalists now need to be "embedded" with military units in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.
“‘Embedding’ means that you must work for a legitimate news organization and agree to restrictions on coverage, including censorship of action photographs, and supervised interviews with soldiers,” he said.
“The result is that there is severely limited news coverage of action areas, in comparison with the Vietnam War.
"I believe that our open coverage of the Vietnam War made a better contribution to our political system than the controls on the media put in place today by Western governments.”
Peter Gregg Arnett today (R) and his portrait displayed at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo supplied
Military skills 
Arnett still remembers clearly the 13 years he worked in Vietnam as a war reporter, starting from 1962.
“Journalists were not permitted to carry weapons while with the soldiers. Reporters and photographers were permitted to get as close to military actions as they dared to gather their stories,” said Arnett.
According to Arnett, during the war, more than 60 journalists with Western media were killed in action.
"Most of the Western journalists who covered the war had had some military training before they were assigned to combat coverage,” he said.
“All of the reporting and photography jobs were voluntary in Western news organizations. All journalists working for Western media were required to have had several years of experience in covering general news stories before they were asked to cover the Vietnam War.”

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