In television's first comprehensive look at an extremely timely issue,
Reporting America at War explores the role of American journalists
in the pivotal conflicts of the 20th century and beyond. From San Juan
Hill to the beaches of Normandy, from the jungles of Vietnam to the
Persian Gulf, the three-hour documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Stephen
Ives tells the dramatic and often surprising stories of the reporters who
witnessed and wrote the news from the battlefield. Through the lens of
their experiences, the film examines the challenges of frontline reporting
and illuminates the role of the correspondent in shaping the way wars have
been remembered and understood.
"This is the story of the men and women who have brought war home to us,"
says director Stephen Ives. "War correspondents are mythic figures that
have captured the American imagination, and the history of their exploits
on the battlefield offers a revealing glimpse into the workings of our
democracy." Ives' most recent film, "Seabiscuit" on The American
Experience series, won an Emmy Award for Best Writing. He is also the
producer and director of "Lindbergh," "The West," and "Amato: A Love
Affair with Opera."
Episode one of Reporting America at War premieres Wednesday,
November 5 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide. Episode two airs
nationally a week later, on Wednesday, November 12 at 9 p.m. ET.
(Check local listings.)
At the heart of Reporting America at War are the courageous,
controversial men and women who have communicated the chaos and brutality
of the battlefield to their fellow citizens on the homefront. In addition
to profiles of such distinguished historical figures as Richard Harding
Davis, Edward R. Murrow and Ernie Pyle, the documentary features
conversations with some of the most influential correspondents of our time
among them Christiane Amanpour, Peter Arnett, Walter Cronkite, David
Halberstam, Chris Hedges, Andy Rooney and Morley Safer.
Together, their experiences offer fresh and compelling perspective on the
history of America's military conflicts, and raise provocative questions
about the rights and responsibilities of a free press in times of war.
Much more than a collection of journalists' reflections, Reporting
America at War also offers an engaging and informative look at the
history of the American media. By tracing the development of war
reporting over the course of the last century, the documentary examines a host of fundamental cultural transformations which have shaped not only the press, but the nation itself, including the birth of the modern
newspaper; the rise of yellow journalism; the invention of radio,
television and the Internet; the recent proliferation of pundits and news analysts; and the explosive growth of 24-hour cable news. In a special
concluding segment, the program also engages the current debate over the
policy of embedding journalists in Iraq, and assesses the significance of
this initiative for the future of war reporting.
Episode one begins in 1898 with the Spanish-American War and, after
flashing backward to trace the Civil War-era roots of American war
reporting, goes on to explore the role of political commitment in war
coverage during the first half of the 20th century. Through the
experiences of Martha Gellhorn, Ernie Pyle, Andy Rooney, Walter Cronkite
and others, the film examines the ways in which a belief in the rightness
of the cause led to an emphasis on the noble and heroic aspects of battle,
and to an unprecedented level of cooperation between the military and the
Episode two charts the erosion of that consensus during the Cold War
conflicts in Korea and Vietnam, and examines the backlash against the
media that took place in the more recent conflicts in Grenada, Panama and
the Persian Gulf. The episode also explores the role of technology in
shaping the current relationship between the military and the press.
Funding for Reporting America at War is provided by the National
Endowment for the Humanities, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS,
The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation and The Annenberg Foundation in support of the WETA Program
Trust Additional funding is provided by Green Mountain Energy and Ranger
Capital. Educational outreach funding provided by Carnegie Corporation of
Reporting America at War is a co-production of Insignia Films and
WETA Washington, D.C. The series was produced by Amanda Pollak and
Stephen Ives, written by Michelle Ferrari, and directed by Ives. The
narrator is Linda Hunt. The executive producer for Insignia Films is
Robert A. Wilson. Executive producers for WETA are Dalton Delan and David