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Saigon AP Bureau Handbook

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Embassy sources in general are very useful. They can be tapped in office interviews, at luncheon dates, or at cocktail parties.

A resident correspondent in Saigon is invited to three to five cocktail parties a week, sometimes more. Most begin at an inconvenient time (6:30 p.m.) but it is wise to attend as many as possible. The faces and subjects of conversation don't change much, but the most influential people in town go to them. People you can't get to interview any other way you often can nail down at receptions.

Here are some subjective judgments of the news value of various embassies in Saigon:

U.S. -- Variable; the higher the official, the more vague he is likely to be. Some very good sources, however. British -- Generally close-mouthed, but extremely well-informed. Excellent sources. French -- Except for the ambassador (who won't talk at all), rather poorly informed. Deeply suspicious of the press, particularly American correspondents. Germany -- Very good company, excellent press dinners, good on cultural developments, but worthless for any other kind of news. Ambassador useful if German is kidnapped or killed, however. Japanese -- Generally well informed and anxious to swap information with correspondents. Indonesian -- Fairly well informed, extremely talkative, apt to be inaccurate. Korean -- Friendly to press and well informed. Chinese -- (nationalist) Well informed but difficult to tap because of delicacy of its relations with Viet Nam. Philippines -- Poorly informed, mainly concerned with boosting relations with the Vietnamese government. Laotian -- While Laotian relations with South Viet Nam technically are severed, the Laotian embassy is still operating in Saigon under a charge d'affairs. Friendly and cooperative with press, but not kept well informed by its own government. Cambodian -- Cooperative, but not kept well informed by its own government. Indian -- Generally well informed (especially on ICC matters), and since the Sino-Indian fight, increasingly cooperative with Western press. Good on news from Hanoi. Polish -- Good parties, little information. Canadian -- Well informed on Hanoi, occasionally talk to press.

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