Date of Award

May 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Chia Vang

Committee Members

Christine Evans, Aims McGuinness


Dickey Chapelle, journalism, narrative journalism, objective reporting, Vietnam War, women in journalism


Wisconsin journalist Dickey Chapelle is primarily remembered as the first female journalist from the U.S. killed while covering combat. She died while on patrol with the Marines on Nov. 4, 1965 in South Vietnam. Chapelle was repeatedly in Vietnam to cover the war from 1961-1965, but the resulting articles were rarely published. In fact, only three articles from her trips to Laos and Vietnam were published in any major magazine. The evidence demonstrates Chapelle believed her difficulties in finding publishers was the result of gender discrimination. However, Chapelle had no formal education and no training for the work required of a journalist. An examination of her professional correspondence revealed that editors were dissatisfied with her work product due to her unorthodox reporting style, her inability to produce copy related to the assignment she was given, and in some cases her lack of objectivity. Chapelle professed to a sort of 'see and report' style, but an examination of her private correspondence revealed she had strong anti-communist, pro-interventionist beliefs that led her to tailor articles in order to gain the support of people in the U.S. for the Vietnam War. The evidence demonstrates that Chapelle was ill-prepared for the writing required of a war correspondent during this era. Further, her ideology shaped her reporting, as opposed to her reporting being shaped by events on the ground in a true 'see and report' style.

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