Anne Morrissy Merick, Who Fought For Women In Journalism During Vietnam, Dies Merick was a pioneer in the world of journalism. She fought for women's rights in her field, persuading the Pentagon to overturn a rule preventing women from covering combat during the Vietnam War.
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Anne Morrissy Merick, Who Fought For Women In Journalism During Vietnam, Dies

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Anne Morrissy Merick, Who Fought For Women In Journalism During Vietnam, Dies

Anne Morrissy Merick, Who Fought For Women In Journalism During Vietnam, Dies

Anne Morrissy Merick, Who Fought For Women In Journalism During Vietnam, Dies

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/527817849/527817850" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Merick was a pioneer in the world of journalism. She fought for women's rights in her field, persuading the Pentagon to overturn a rule preventing women from covering combat during the Vietnam War.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Journalists need to be pretty bold to get the story, but Anne Morrissy Merick took that to a new level in combat during the Vietnam War. She died last week at the age of 83.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Anne Morrissy Merick was always bold. She made headlines when she was still in college as the first female sports editor of the Cornell Daily Sun. She beat three male candidates for the spot.

MCEVERS: In 1954, another first for a woman. Yale allowed her into the press box at a football game against Cornell.

SIEGEL: She was also ABC's first female television field producer, the job that took her to Vietnam in 1967.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANNE MORRISSY MERICK: I had covered the March to Washington and Selma and various assassinations and all of the space shots and lots of politics, so I wanted to cover the biggest story going at that time, which was the Vietnam War.

MCEVERS: It wasn't easy. General William Westmoreland had banned female reporters from staying overnight with troops in combat. Refusing to miss out on the action, Merick and several other women fought to reverse the order and won. Merick spent seven years in Vietnam.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MERICK: I got married in Vietnam. I had a baby in Vietnam. So, I mean, it's probably the most important part of my life.

SIEGEL: Merick's fight to do her job was a game-changer for AP correspondent Edith Lederer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

EDITH LEDERER: She paved the way for me. I arrived in Vietnam in 1972, and so I didn't face that kind of discrimination.

SIEGEL: Lederer was the first woman the AP sent to cover that war. She met Merick there, worked with her, and they became lifelong friends.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LEDERER: She was not afraid of power and of trying to promote women's rights and gender equality at a very early stage. She was a pistol, (laughter) that's all I can say. And she was a lot of fun.

MCEVERS: Anne Morrissy Merick died last week in Naples, Fla. The cause was complications from dementia. She was 83.

[POST BROADCAST CORRECTION: We incorrectly say Gen. William Westmoreland banned female reporters from overnight stays with troops in combat. Westmoreland had proposed such a ban, but it was never implemented.]

(SOUNDBITE OF PENGUIN CAFE ORCHESTRA'S "NOTHING REALLY BLUE")

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Correction May 18, 2017

We incorrectly say Gen. William Westmoreland banned female reporters from overnight stays with troops in combat. Westmoreland had proposed such a ban, but it was never implemented.