Journalists, particularly during times of war, have the heavy responsibility of writing and recording the first rough draft of history. Yet it’s been said repeatedly that in times of war, truth is the first casualty. This course will examine, explore and evaluate how well journalists have done, throughout history as well as today, in separating fact from fiction, discerning truth from propaganda and providing crucial information over merely blood and sensationalism.
We will get to know some of the men and women who have reported war and find out what motivated them in many cases to risk their lives. Does their work matter? Have they made a difference? Are they heroes or shills, thoughtful analysts or thrill-seeking adrenaline addicts? We will look at the concepts of objectivity and balance, and debate whether either is truly possible or desirable. We will dig into the concept of peace journalism vs. conflict reporting. And we will do all these things with a particular emphasis on the regions we visit.
*Note: This class is delivered when lunch is served.
Field WorkCountry: Vietnam
Date: February 11, 2020
This field class is designed to expose students to the viewpoint of the Vietnamese in the war in Vietnam that ended in 1975. Students will visit the War Remnants Museum, with exhibits including captured U.S. military hardware, depictions of torture and other war atrocities and portrayals of the conflict from a strongly anti-U.S. standpoint. We will explore the tunnels of Củ Chi, the elaborate underground network used by the Viet Cong to resist U.S. forces. We will interview Mrs. Nguyễn Phạm Thu Uyên, host of a Vietnamese TV show that reunites families separated by the war. We also will visit the Phở Bình noodle shop, where the Tet Offensive was secretly planned in an upstairs room while American soldiers on the first floor enjoyed food and beer. Our goal is to recognize, along with the best journalists, that there are often many sides to the same story.
1. To describe the viewpoint of the Vietnamese in their resistance to the United States in the war that ended in in 1975
2. To identify examples of propaganda, slanted reporting and the victors’ viewpoint in the writing of history
3. To evaluate the extent of peace and healing decades after the conflict ended
4. To realize that the best journalists – in war and in peace – recognize that there are often many sides to the same story