Reporting America At War
About The Series
The Reporters
For Teachers
About The Series

Photo: AP photographer Horst Faas in Vietnam, 1967. Photo credit: Horst Faas collection. 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 press.

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 New York.

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 S. Thompson.