Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Covering the Vietnam war: big picture versus ‘bang bang’

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An international correspondent’s life can be exhilarating — the travel, the adventure, the sense of being right in the middle of where it’s all happening. But it can also be very risky, especially in a war zone. And it can take an emotional toll on even the most seasoned journalist. The job comes with ethical and philosophical considerations, not to mention practical questions — like what do you pack? From the Second World War to present day, CBC Archives examines what it’s like to be a CBC journalist abroad.

The Story

Knowlton Nash covered the complex and bloody Vietnam War for the CBC. Looking back in this 1990 radio clip, he reflects on the differences between American and Canadian coverage of Vietnam. Canadians provided «something different, special,» such as big-picture reports on underlying issues, says Nash, while Americans concentrated on daily battle news. But he thinks this was more related to money than anything else. «We couldn’t afford the daily satellite feeds that Americans used to send over their ‘bang bang’ material.»

Did you Know?

• The term «bang bang» is commonly used by foreign correspondents to mean action in a war zone.
• Knowlton Nash was a Washington, D.C., correspondent for the CBC during the 1960s. While there, he covered the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War.
• Nash covered much of the Vietnam War from the U.S. But he did spend a short time in Vietnam working on a news special, arriving there in November of 1967.
• In his 1984 book History on the Run: The Trenchcoat Memoirs of a Foreign Correspondent, Nash writes about his time in Vietnam. He came away from the experience «with a deep affection for the average American front-line soldier, probably not a fashionable attitude. There were some thugs, madmen, and even murderers among the soldiers… and they got a lot of attention. But in my experience, they were certainly not representative of the average GI, who was just a scared kid trying to stay alive.»


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