Vietnam War coverage topic of Seigenthaler discussion

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Dean Ken Paulson (left) moderates the discussion on Vietnam War coverage. Associate Professor Leon Alligood was a member of the panel.

On Sept. 8, an hour-long screening of The Vietnam War, a documentary film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, preceded a panel discussion and Q&A on the impact of journalism and war coverage during the Vietnam War.

Nashville Public Television and The Seigenthaler Series hosted the abbreviated screening from the 10-part documentary at 6:30 p.m at the John Seigenthaler Center in Nashville.  The panel consisted of Leon Alligood, MTSU associate professor in journalism and a former Tennessean and Nashville Banner journalist who was embedded with troops in Afghanistan, and Thomas Schwartz, a Vanderbilt professor of history who is a Vietnam scholar and researcher. Ken Paulson, president of the First Amendment Center and dean of the MTSU College of Media and Entertainment, moderated the discussion.

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At the Seigenthaler event were (left to right): Dr. Zeny Panol, Dr. Christine Eschenfelder, Dan Eschenfelder and panelist Leon Alligood.

The 18-hour documentary includes home movies, audio recordings, iconic images by photojournalists and remastered footage from the era. Burns and Novick’s documentary series also includes testimonies from dozens of witnesses from different sides of the war.

“We’re delighted to host this special screening as part of the Seigenthaler Series on the Vanderbilt campus,” Paulson said. “The news media played an unprecedented role in its coverage of the Vietnam War, and that role has evolved over time.”

The film screening and discussion is the latest in a series of talks honoring the First Amendment Center’s late founder, John Seigenthaler. The series strives to explore emerging issues involving the media and the nation’s most fundamental freedoms. Nashville Public Television will begin the broadcast of The Vietnam War on Sept. 17.

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