Joan Rossiter Burney and Dr. Beverly Deepe Keever were inducted into the Marian Andersen Nebraska Women Journalists Hall of Fame during Nebraska Press Women’s recent spring convention.
Keever, a Carleton-area native, now of Honolulu, Hawaii, was the longest-serving Western correspondent during the Vietnam War. Burney, a Hartington native, now of Lincoln, has touched countless lives with her columns, books and speeches.
In addition to being the longest-serving Western correspondent continuously covering the Vietnam War, Keever is known for advancing First Amendment issues in her 29 years of teaching at the University of Hawaii. Her seven years of living and reporting in Vietnam include dispatches and detailed articles for the New York Herald Tribune, Newsweek and others. The war’s first female correspondent, Keever held her own, “asking no favors,” traveling by elephant, speedboat, helicopter and on foot, in trying to make sense of the bloody, bitter war. Early on, Keever’s exclusive interviews predicted the accurate outcome that the United States would “lose Southeast Asia.” A five-part series described the vital role Vietnamese women played on both sides of the man-made havoc. Her work for the Christian Science Monitor, reporting from the embattled Khe Sanh Outpost, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Keever’s international passions were nurtured by a love of learning about peoples far from her Carleton farm home; the rewards of taking well-calculated risks; and her degrees from the University of Nebraska and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. In 2001, hers was among the works showcasing 148 years of war reporting lauded at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Keever’s books include Death Zones and Darling Spies and News Zero: The New York Times and the Bomb.
Keever was presented her plaque on March 9 at Hebron when she was in Nebraska visiting family. The recognition was, she said, a “very unexpected, tremendous honor.” She credits her career in part to growing up on a farm, to her mother who encouraged reading and the one-room schoolhouse she attended.
Boxes of her documents from covering the Vietnam War are being provided to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Love Library for research. Keever said she would like to see more opportunities for Native American women, who have a wonderful oral culture and beautiful songs and dances.
With these latest additions, the Marian Andersen Nebraska Women Journalists Hall of Fame now has 16 members. The Hall is displayed on the second floor of UNL’s Andersen Hall, and will be added to the Hall of Fame section of the Nebraska Press Women website (nebraskapresswomen.org).
Honored women journalists are recognized for their talent, initiative, intelligence and stamina, and for making a difference for the profession, for their communities and for those who follow in their footsteps. Nominees are sought from the general public and honorees are chosen by the NPW Board of Directors.
A nonprofit professional organization of women and men in communication, Nebraska Press Women provides opportunities for professional development for Nebraska’s communicators.