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MALCOLM W. BROWNE:
Saigon AP Bureau Handbook


Page 15 of 22 Back  Main  Next


XIII. AP OFFICE ROUTINE

The office (158D/3 Rue Pasteur) opens daily except Sunday at 8:30 a.m. A messenger and one or more correspondents are on duty at that time. The office usually closes at 7 p.m., although someone is usually working in it until later.

A messenger or attendant is on duty every day during the day and Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights until 11 p.m.

(Browne lives upstairs, has an extension of the office phone, and normally can take calls at all times the office itself is unstaffed.)

The incoming AP file is picked up several times a day, and should be read by the desk.

Vietnam press bulletins come in at noon and about 6:30 p.m. The desk should read both editions.

Radio Phnom Penh (in English) must be monitored each day using the radio next to the desk (which has a special antenna rigged on the roof.) We monitor at 1:30 p.m. on 6090. (Exact frequency marked with a "P" on radio dial.)

Radio Hanoi (in English) is monitored at the office every day on 9840 at 6.p.m. Tokyo also monitors Hanoi, but this should be regarded only as a backstop. (Exact frequency marked on radio dial with an "H".)

For radio monitoring, it is useful to use a tape recorder for verbatim quotes and as a substitute for shorthand. There is a tape recorder next to the radio. Make sure you know how it operates before using it. It's expensive, it belongs to Browne, and if you break it, there'll be hell to pay.

"Bill" Ha Van Tran checks the local press in the evening for possible stories.

A messenger from the British Information Service brings a mimeographed exerpt of important stories in the local press about noon each day. The "Vietnamese External" and "Vietnamese Internal" sections should be read carefully by the desk.

Agence Khmere de Presse (AKP), Cambodia's official news agency bulletin, arrives in batches by mail from Phnom Penh once or twice a week. Despite its staleness, this should be read by the desk, especially with an eye on upcoming stories or events not mentioned on Radio Phnom Penh. It's in French.

Our current stringer in Cambodia is a Cambodian businessman named Seng Meakly. His cable address is ASSOCIATED PHNOMPENH and cables to him must be in French. He files from time to time, and sometimes his dispatches are important. Since they are in French, they come here. We must not only translate them but rewrite them as a rule, removing any tendency to provincialism and putting them in perspective. We then refile to Tokyo.

The AP has a mail box at MACV information office, in which news releases and mail from our military friends is left. This should be picked up daily.

The Vietnamese Direction General of Information holds daily what it calls a "military briefing," Monday through Saturday at 10 a.m. An official reads the daily military communiqué in Vietnamese and English. This is the same communiqué published later in the day by Vietnam Press, but we usually attend the "briefing" anyway to benefit from the several-hour lead it has on the published report. No questions are answered at the briefings. In general, events up to one week late are reported, and information frequently is inaccurate.

The bureau has some of the elements of a darkroom in its john, but still does part of its photo processing commercially.

At the press table in USIS, transcripts of foreign radio broadcasts (FBIS) -- which include SOME of Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Radio Pathet Lao and Liberation (Viet Cong) Radio are kept. They are always stale, but should be read from time to time.


Courtesy Malcolm W. Browne.

Photo: Horst Faas, Mal Browne and Peter Arnett in the Saigon AP office. Photo credit: Peter Arnett collection Reporter's Notebook
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