100 articles – ‘Three articles on the My Lai Massacre’

14 June 2011

Written by: Lawrie Zion

‘Three articles on the My Lai Massacre’ by Seymour M. Hersh

These three articles by Seymour M. Hersh, which won the Pulitzer prize for international reporting in 1970, unraveled the American Army cover-up of the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War.

On the 16th of March 1968 a platoon from the United States Armed Forces went in shooting on what they thought was an enemy base. After soon discovering that there were only civilians, the platoon lead by Second Lieutenant William Calley, raped, mutilated and killed over 500 Vietnamese civilians in the town of My Lai in South Vietnam.

After receiving a tip about a military personnel being held for the murder of over 70 civilians, Hersh started investigating the incident. The investigation led to an interview with William Calley, which in turn led to these articles.

The articles were published in November, 1969 through the Dispatch News Service, which sold them to over 35 newspapers. The story caused global outrage and led to huge resistance to the Vietnam War.

Together they show how good investigative reporting can unravel the biggest secrets and remind us of the kind of impact journalism can have on global affairs. Hersch’s many subsequent investigative reports include his expose of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal for the New Yorker in 2004.

Sindre Hellkas, who hails from Oslo, is a Master of Global Communications student at La Trobe University.

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