"The best reporter in the world." 1
From the Vietnam War
to the Gulf War
to the War on Terrorism
there has been one constant, news correspondent Peter Arnett
. For the past 40 years if there has been war and atrocity, more likely than not, Peter Arnett has been reporting on it.
Born in 1937, the Riverton, New Zealand native never went to college. Instead, Arnett went to work for a local newspaper straight out of high school, the Southland Times, covering city councils and local sports. But wanderlust was in his blood and soon he set off for Indo-China, working in Laos, Thailand, and eventually Vietnam.
The 13 years he spent in Vietnam, working alongside American journalists who would become famous for their war reports, gave shape to his work:
"I was a young reporter, enthusiastic, headstrong, poorly trained because Commonwealth journalism was not particularly strong on adequate analysis, on having a very deep factual base for your stories. Australian journalism, in particular -- in Sydney, it was hit and run to some degree -- headline-happy newspapers. In Saigon in 1962, where I was assigned by the Associated Press, Malcolm Browne was my bureau chief. Neil Sheehan and David Halberstam also covered Vietnam in those days. From them I learned of the principles of American journalism -- freedom of expression, the need to delve into stories, to question decisions made by government, you know, to present the obverse side of the story. And the intellectual courage of all three men, in addition to their physical courage, impressed me and made an imprint on me that has lasted to this day."
Arnett has followed these principles on battlefield
s across the globe. He has stayed behind in places where other journalist
s have left, often with his own life at risk, putting his stories out past government censor
s -- and received criticism from governments, politicians, readers, and viewers.
But Arnett has been willing to pay the price for the truth, and his journalistic peers have recognized his efforts. His unimpeachable reputation has won him more than 50 prestigious journalism awards in both print and television, including the Pulitzer Prize, three Sigma Delta Chi awards, Columbia University's DuPont Award, the Peabody, the Emmy and several Ace Awards.
In 1981 Arnett made the transition from print to broadcast media - going to work for Ted Turner's fledgling all news network CNN. And it was with CNN that he would become a recognizable face throughout the world. Assigned to Jerusalem during the prelude to the Gulf War, Arnett headed for Baghdad while other journalists fled Iraq. Even his camera crew left - leaving him literally the only western reporter in the country. Undaunted, Arnett phoned in his reports.
Eventually Arnett was joined by other personnel from CNN. Few can forget watching him, Bernard Shaw, and John Holliman crawling around their hotel room pointing cameras out windows, bringing the world live images of missiles and anti-aircraft fire exploding around the city.
In 1964 Arnett married a Vietnamese woman, Nina Nguyen. They had two children, Elsa and Andrew. Nina and Peter separated after twenty years of marriage.
Peter has written a memoir, Live From the Battlefield: From Vietnam to Baghdad, 35 Years in the World's War Zones, published by Simon & Schuster in 1994.
referring to Peter Arnett in The Best and the Brightest