Award-Winning Correspondent Peter Arnett Speaks on War
Pulitzer-winning journalist New Zealander Peter Arnett spoke to a packed crowd at California State University in Fresno on his 50 years of reporting experience – from covering the Vietnam War to his struggles with censorship by the US government.
Arnett visited the university as the keynote speaker at this year’s Roger Tatarian Symposium where he discussed the coverage of the Vietnam War and the role of American news media.
Arnett wrote more than 2000 articles for the Associated Press, covered most wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq and won an Emmy Award for his live coverage of the first Gulf War in 1991.
Arnett said he didn’t originally intend to become a reporter but applied at his local paper at the age of 17. One of his earliest assignments, while writing for an Australian paper, was covering an axe murderer on the loose who’d been cornered in a standoff by law enforcement.
In Vietnam, Arnett said that he faced extensive pressures from the American government to report more positive stories. He said that in some instances, Washington was becoming highly critical that he “should get on the line with the rest of the team.”
The job of a newsman, Arnett said, was to cover the news as fairly and completely as possible.
In his lecture titled, “Young Reporters Defying Old Press Doctrines,” Arnett said that covering the war was an unforgettable confrontational experience that shaped both his and all of his colleagues careers.
“Vietnam was America’s largest uncensored war, and we journalists were pushed between a rock and a hard place, brow beaten by government officials to present their optimistic views, their optimistic version of the war, while the news industry jettisoned the backbone and demanded that we report the unvarnished truth,” Arnett said.
Arnett’s new book, Saigon Has Fallen will be released on 23 April.
He lives in Orange County, California.
Original article by Megan Ginise, The Collegian, April 16, 2015.