If you served in Vietnam, more than likely at one time or another in your in country tour there you had an interaction with a member of the news media. It could have been with a camera crew filming some type of action or it could have been one of the ubiquitous newspaper and magazine correspondents searching for the next Pulitzer Prize winning story. It is said Vietnam was the first televised war. For that reason this episode will highlight the work done by an NBC News Saigon bureau chief in 1966 and 67. The story is told in An Opinion piece in the New York Times titled: The First Televised War that was submitted by that NBC News Saigon bureau chief Ronald Steinman.
Steinman describes the situation he found when he arrived as the new Saigon NBC bureau chief in mid-April 1966. A typical NBC News foreign bureau consisted of a correspondent with one two-man crew and a small staff. Because of the enormity of the Vietnam War things were different at the Saigon NBC News bureau. Steinman had at his disposal five correspondents, five camera crews made up of a cameraman and a sound man, a full-time radio reporter and an engineer to keep the equipment running. In addition he had five Vietnamese drivers who owned their own cars and he often took advantage of the services of many freelance cameramen. On top of all this he had two experienced on staff Vietnamese reporters who roamed the streets and the halls of the Vietnamese government looking for stories.
Steinman’s large staff was managed by his office manager. She was a young Vietnamese woman responsible for exit and entry visas to and from Saigon, who kept them in local supplies, paid the bills and served as a negotiator and translator when needed.
Steinman’s piece describes how his staff would go anywhere, do anything in its mission to get the real news about the Vietnam War back to the TV screens of America.