Kate Webb earned a reputation as a fearless reporter during the Vietnam War.
“This year Australia put the journalist Kate Webb on a stamp to commemorate the country’s Veterans Day. It is a reproduction of a famous photo of Kate wearing a reporter’s shirt, holding open her notebook while looking intently at the subject of an interview. By recognizing Kate, who covered the Vietnam War for United Press International, as a ‘woman in war,’ the stamp quietly acknowledges what has been glossed over in the annals of the conflict. Female reporters covered that war, rewriting the rules so that the phrase ‘woman war correspondent’ would never again be an oxymoron. Reporters like Kate and me didn’t go to Vietnam because of enlightened decisions by newsrooms; in the 1960s, news organizations weren’t sending women to cover the most important story of our generation. Instead, we had to find our own way to the battle zone. Kate quit her newspaper job and flew to Saigon from Sydney; U.P.I. hired her only later. Jurate Kazickas went on the quiz show ‘Password’ to win the $500 she needed for her ticket to Saigon. The French photojournalist Catherine Leroy, inspired by photos of the war she had seen in Paris Match, arrived in Vietnam as a freelancer. I used money from a fellowship grant to buy a one-way ticket from Seattle to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It seemed almost natural, since the women’s movement was helping us imagine we could have the same opportunities as men. Once we got to Indochina, we had to seek out news organizations so desperate for reporters on the spot that they would employ a woman. Then again, it’s not as if we were better off at home; if we had stayed in America or Europe or Australia, we would have been confined to covering society, food, fashion and the home. …”
The Women Who Covered Vietnam