Vietnam 1968 – Viewing A War As Others Saw It – The Foreign Press Reports. Past Daily Reference Room.
|Download For $1.99: - February 1968 - BBC World Service - Roundup Of The Weeklies - Gordon Skene Sound Collection|
Vietnam in 1968. I suppose it depends on who is doing the reporting and where they are reporting from, but the Vietnam War (as with just about all wars and military involvements since) was a bubbling cauldron of differing points of view. Up until the fateful period of 1968 (beginning with the Tet Offensive), American reporters were largely supportive of the war in Vietnam – many adapted the Pentagon stance of the Domino Theory that if Vietnam fell it would be only a matter of time before the rest of Southeast Asia fell under Communist influence. The Press were more or less in lockstep ever since the Gulf of Tonkin incident in August of 1964.
But the longer the war dragged on, the more differing opinions and views of the conflict emerged. Some saw the war as unwinnable – some saw it as one giant protracted exercise in futility that would last for decades. Others saw it as a political bungle – that if it were truly up to the Military, the war would have been over long before 1968 – and still others saw it as not so much a conflict between Democracy and Communist domination as much as a struggle for independence on Vietnam’s part. That Vietnam had been under one form or another of foreign rule for generations and it just wanted to run its own life for a change – and it saw that opportunity in 1954 when France gave up its colonial influence over the country.
The debate on the whys and wherefores of the Vietnam War continue to this day, but the issue at hand here is; how was the war being reported by other countries? One thing that wasn’t as accessible as it is today is worldwide streaming access to information from every corner and cranny of the world the minute news happens. In 1968 it was either gotten by Shortwave (if you had the patience to twist dials and hope for good conditions for listening) or relied on Educational Radio for reports in weekly wrapups.
In this case, a weekly series produced by the BBC for American listeners called Roundup Of The Weeklies, where the various News magazines published in Britain were read and commented on by members of the BBC staff.
What’s apparent here are the vast differences in approach the British Press had towards the War and its reporting as opposed to American outlets at the time. The same stories viewed differently, or different aspects of the war entirely?
However the message is perceived, it was available – and how many stations in the U.S. actually took this program isn’t really known. But it’s interesting to listen as a point of reference to get an idea of how a conflict was being observed by an outside source and not one of the major U.S. networks at the time.
Here is the BBC’s Roundup Of The Weeklies for an unidentified week in February 1968.