“Vietnam Inc.” changed the way I looked at what photojournalism could be. It had a point of view, subtle and clearly stated, but definitely not overstated. It was the result of years of hard work, grunt work, immersive and visceral. It was a consequence of the life experience of the photographer, Philip Jones Griffiths, an ardent Welsh nationalist, who identified with the plight of ordinary Vietnamese, and I think also with the blue-collar soldier and Marine. It was work that demanded going right to the heart of the matter. “Vietnam Inc.” could not have been made by someone not willing to be present right in the middle of everything that was terrible, or someone who wasn’t desperate to understand what was going on. It required an intellect, a gift to observe and translate, and the ability to be culturally aware, something that a lot of journalism and photography doesn’t have.
Other genre-changing forms of journalism included Michael Herr’s “Dispatches” and John Laurence’s CBS TV documentary “The World of Charlie Company.”