John Cassellis is a television news cameraman. He and his sound recorder dispassionately film images of car accidents rather than help the victims. Cassellis is seemingly hardened to ethical and social issues; he is more concerned with his personal life and pursuing audience-grabbing stories. Yet once Cassellis finds out that his news station has been providing the stories and information gathered by the cameramen and news journalists to the FBI, he becomes enraged. The news station creates an excuse to fire him, but he soon finds another job free-lancing at the Democratic National Convention.
In the course of his television job, Cassellis meets Eileen, a single mother, and her son, Harold, who have moved from West Virginia to Chicago. Harold tells a woman canvassing the neighborhood that his father, Buddy, is “at Vietnam”, but later tells Cassellis that he just took off one day and never came back. Eileen tells Cassellis that “Buddy is dead.” Cassellis grows fond of them both, mother and son.
When Harold goes missing, Eileen goes to the site of the convention to ask Cassellis for help. She finds herself in the midst of the riots. After witnessing acts of police brutality, Eileen finds Cassellis. As they drive to an undisclosed location, unaware that Harold has returned home, Cassellis accidentally crashes the car into a tree, killing Eileen and critically injuring himself. A passing driver stops to photograph the accident, after which he leaves the heavily damaged car behind.