77. Memorandum From the Director of the Joint United States Public Affairs Office (Zorthian) to the Director of the United States Information Agency (Marks)1


  • The accelerated Media Coverage Effort


The purpose of the coverage effort is to increase the flow abroad of information media materials on specific themes through three major channels: (1) from JUSPAO to targeted USIS posts, (2) from JUSPAO to USIA for processing and output to USIS posts, and (3) from the GVN PsyWar and foreign ministries to Vietnamese diplomatic missions abroad, with JUSPAO and USIA support and guidance.

The list of specific themes involved is flexible and can be adapted or increased as conditions change. At the start of the accelerated effort, they are (1) evidence of infiltration of regular NVN military units and bloc weapons from the North, (2) evidence that the VC’s political structure is tied to Hanoi and has no basis of popular support in the South, (3) evidence of humane GVN treatment of VC and NVN prisoners, (4) the pacification (rural construction) program, (5) evidence of political stability and democratization progress, (6) economic and social progress, and (7) Free World (including U.S.) assistance, especially in non-military and civic action fields.

The urgency of the need for the accelerated effort was so great that in the three weeks since it started, the required reorganization of staff and material resources has been carried on simultaneously with actual coverage operations.

The basic reorganization of resources involved (1) the formation of a mobile coverage team capable of moving out on short notice to gather materials for all media without disrupting on-going programs; (2) the adjustment of media processing facilities in Saigon to give priority handling to the materials gathered; and (3) the allocation of material resources to support both the team and the media processing services.

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Accelerated Media Coverage Effort

1. Coverage Team. The field coverage team consists of an American Field Manager, Press Reporter, Combat Photographer and Economics Reporter, and Vietnamese Radio Reporter and Mopix Photographer. Its composition may vary according to the assignment, and can be reinforced from the media sections as needed.

The media materials gathered by the team are adapted by the IPS Correspondent (columns and backgrounders), VOA Correspondent (English-language feeds to IBS), IBS Program Officer (other language reports by feed and tape to IBS and other posts), Publications Officer (features to RSC’s, regional and other posts’ publications), and USAID Liaison Office (photos and features to AID/W, USIA and other posts, and local release).

2. Media Processing Adjustments. Measures are being taken to adjust media processing facilities in Saigon to handle the increased flow of materials abroad. These include: a contract with the National Motion Picture Center for priority processing of film;2 an increase in the number and output of other-language stringers for radio production; a shift of all but news photo processing from the Press Section to Tech Services: and internal Information Division cross-play of materials produced for one medium to other media for adaptation.

3. Material Resources. For the most part, the resources needed for this accelerated effort are being acquired. Arrangements for military air transportation to the field are functioning. A vehicle for fast coverages within the Saigon-Gia Dinh area is not yet available. Office space for a team headquarters has been allocated, and field media equipment has been furnished by the media sections. For the most part, personnel requirements have been met. The reassignment of the Press Officer without an immediate replacement has created a serious temporary shortage in the Press side of the operation, but the arrival of the special IPS coverage team will help alleviate this problem.

4. The Vietnamese International Information Program. Output through the third channel—from the PsyWar and Foreign ministries to GVN diplomatic missions abroad—is virtually at a stand-still. The “Vista” cables continue to be filed daily. A number of pamphlets created earlier are in process of production at RSC-Manila and of distribution. An information training course for Foreign Ministry officers who will carry on information activities abroad is continuing successfully. This is only a small fraction of what could be accomplished.

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The designation of an American officer to work exclusively on the development of this program with both the PsyWar directorate and the Foreign Ministry should help move the program into wider fields and more extensive production. The program will continue to meet frustrations, however, unless the PsyWar Director and Foreign Minister can be convinced to give the program a higher priority and larger and better staffs than is now the case.

Highlights for Discussion with PsyWar Minister Chinh

1. How can the PsyWar Ministry create a stronger International Information Program? The need is for more and better production of media materials designed for output through GVN diplomatic missions abroad. At present, the Ministry gives this program too low priority, and has assigned inadequate staff.

2. Looking ahead, can the Ministry give assurance of a balanced film production at the National Motion Picture Center? At present, the Center’s resources are largely consumed in production for television. It should not neglect the continuing need for films and film processing for distribution at home and abroad.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Director’s Subject Files, 1963–1967, Entry UD WW 101, Box 3, Field—Far East (Viet Nam) 1966, January, February, March. Limited Official Use. Drafted by Briggs.
  2. Reference is to the Government of South Vietnam’s center for motion picture production.