Broadcast Journalist Morley Safer Donates Papers to Briscoe Center
November 12, 2009
Detail from snapshot of Morley Safer affectionately known as "Stoneface" by his Vietnamese colleagues, Saigon, 1965. Safer (Morley) Papers, DBCAH.
AUSTIN, Texas—Morley Safer, the highly acclaimed CBS News broadcast journalist and 60 Minutes correspondent, will donate his papers to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin.
"I am honored to be included in the Briscoe Center's archive," Safer said. "Its collection of journalism has no equal. It is a gateway to learning the eyewitness history of who we are, who we were, and how we perceived ourselves as a nation."
"The Briscoe Center is deeply grateful to Morley Safer for entrusting his historically significant archive to our care," said Dr. Don E. Carleton, executive director of the Briscoe Center. "Morley is widely recognized as one of the most respected and outstanding investigative journalists of his generation. Given his wide-ranging career in Canada and at CBS News and 60 Minutes, his papers will be a particularly rich source for researching and teaching of recent world history."
In addition to extensive documentation of his award-winning coverage of the Vietnam War, the Morley Safer Papers document every other aspect of his career with CBS News, including materials related to his four decades of reports for 60 Minutes. The collection includes original news scripts, research files, correspondence, memoranda, photographs, the manuscript of his 1990 book Flashbacks: On Returning to Vietnam, and videos of his work. The Safer Papers also include scripts of stories filed from Poland, Berlin, and London during his tenure with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (prior to joining CBS News).
Detail of script from Morley Safer’s report on the second Cam Ne operation in which he notes that U. S. Marines dramatically altered their treatment of villagers. Safer (Morley) Papers, DBCAH.
Of particular interest are documents related to Safer's coverage of the burning of the village of Cam Ne by U.S. Marines during the Vietnam War, broadcast during the August 5, 1965, edition of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. In the aftermath of the broadcast, CBS News executives were called "unpatriotic" and were forced to defend themselves against attempts by the presidential administration of Lyndon B. Johnson to discredit the network. Safer's coverage of Cam Ne is considered a watershed moment in journalism, one that changed not only the American public's understanding of the Vietnam War, but also how broadcast journalists covered the war.
"Given the wealth of news media resources at the Briscoe Center, including those of many of Morley's CBS News colleagues, it is particularly fitting that his papers join our collection," Carleton added. "It is especially appropriate that the Safer archive will be joining the papers of Walter Cronkite for whose Evening News broadcast Morley filed his reports from Vietnam. Cronkite deeply admired Safer as one of the very best correspondents in the history of CBS News."
The Briscoe Center is home to one of the most comprehensive collections of archival materials related to the history of the news media in existence, including the personal papers of such media industry pioneers as Walter Cronkite, Robert Trout, Sig Mickelson, and Dan Rather. The Briscoe Center also houses the papers of correspondent Harry Reasoner and commentator Andy Rooney, and producers Joseph Wershba, Jay McMullen, and Phil Scheffler, all colleagues of Safer's at 60 Minutes. The News Media collection also comprises Newsweek magazine's research archives, the newspaper "morgues" of the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Journal American, and the archives of photojournalists Eddie Adams, David Hume Kennerly, Wally McNamee, Flip Schulke, Dirck Halstead, PF Bentley, and Diana Walker, among others.
Official pass allowing CBS News correspondent Morley Safer safe passage as a journalist, ca. 1965. Safer (Morley) Papers, DBCAH.
Safer was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1931. He began his journalism career working for newspapers and wire services in Canada and Great Britain. Safer joined CBS News in 1964 as its London correspondent. In 1965, he opened the CBS News Saigon bureau and served two tours reporting on the Vietnam War. From 1967 until late 1970, Safer was the CBS News London bureau chief, covering Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Since December 1970, he has been a correspondent for 60 Minutes. Safer has also been a principal writer and reporter for numerous documentaries, including the CBS Reports series.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has recognized Safer with a Lifetime Achievement Emmy, and he has earned numerous other Emmys, three Overseas Press Club Awards, four George Foster Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Awards, and two George Polk Memorial Awards. The French government named him a Chévalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1995.
The Safer papers will be accessible to the public after they are cataloged.
High-resolution press images of a selection of selected items are available.
For more information, contact: Erin Purdy, associate director of communications, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, 512-495-4692.