Journalism in Action: Beverly Deepe Keever and Her Career

Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“I discovered that I had some 54.8 linear feet of these documents that were packed in 170 plastic, dirt-, bug-, and water-proof packets.”

Beverly Deepe Keever

About Beverly Deepe Keever

Growing up in rural Nebraska, Beverly Deepe Keever dreamed of seeing the world.

“Not to write travel articles but to witness for myself how other peoples lived and worked,” she wrote. A dedicated student, she received her BA in journalism and political science from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1957 and earned a MS in journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism, graduating with honors in 1958. She remained in New York City and while working with Samuel Lubell for two years, made her adventurous plans for travel.

 

 When plans to tour Asia with her graduate school friends in 1961 fell through, Keever decided to travel alone.

Write here about travels before Vietnam.

“Dressed in military fatigues and boots, I was traveling light, not wanting anyone to have carry my load.”

Beverly Deepe Keever

 She first set foot in South Vietnam on February 14, 1962, with little more than a suitcase and the tools of her trade: a camera and a typewriter.

She intended South Vietnam to be a two-week tourist stop. After the war began to heat up, Keever’s eagerness to follow a story kept her rooted in Vietnam for seven years. During those years, she built a life and a reputation for herself as the longest continuous foreign correspondent during the Vietnam War. Beginning as a freelance reporter, she learned about the war through the general population rather than just through the lens of governments and military actions. Though her gender created some difficulties male reporters did not face, it also gave her writing a unique perspective.

Several major newspapers published her coverage of the Vietnam War, including the New York Herald Tribune, Newsweek, the Christian Science Monitor, the Associated Press, The Economist, London Daily Express, North American Newspaper Alliance, London Sunday Express, San Francisco Examiner Chronicle, Omaha World Herald, and the Pittsburgh Gazette. Her reporting about the Khe San outpost for the Christian Science Monitor earned her a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1969.

On February 14, 1969, seven years from the day she arrived in Vietnam, Beverly Deepe married Chuck Keever in Belvidere, Nebraska.

The couple eventually settled in Hawaii, where Keever pursued two graduate degrees at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Her dissertation developed into News Zero: the New York Times and the Bomb. She taught journalism and communications at the UH-Manoa for 29 years. Keever is now a professor emerita at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

After her retirement, she continued to write. Forty years after leaving Vietnam, Keever noticed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seemed familiar.

She began her memoir on war reporting in hopes that her experiences in Vietnam might help others personally understand events in the Middle East. Death Zones and Darling Spies: Seven Years of War Reporting, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2013, chronicles the major events of the war between 1962-1969, as well as her interactions with peasants and soldiers. In the preface to her book, Keever explains her information came from three main sources: her memories, her articles, and a trove of other sources, which she donated to Archives & Special Collections after writing her memoir. In 2015, Death Zones and Darling Spies became the featured book for the Nebraska statewide reading program One Book One Nebraska.

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