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Michael Birch (journalist)

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Michael Birch (journalist)

Michael Birch (1944–1968) was an Australian journalist. He was a Senior Australian Associated Press correspondent in Vietnam in 1968 and was killed on 5 May 1968 in Saigon during the Tet offensive.[1]

Early life

Birch went to school in Tasmania before coming to St Peter's College, Auckland in Form I in 1954. His interest in newspapers was evident then, when in Form 3 he and a small group produced a two-page school newspaper. At the end of Form Four his family returned to Australia and he completed his schooling at the Marist College at New Norcia and Perth.[2]

Journalist antecedents

Birch's father had been a journalist in Australia and New Zealand. One grandfather was a drama critic on the New Zealand Herald and the other grandfather was a music critic for The Age in Melbourne.[2]

Career

Birch joined The West Australian as a cadet reporter and very quickly became a graded reporter. He transferred to the Melbourne Herald in 1965 and for this paper reported from Canberra. He had ambitions of becoming a foreign correspondent and applied to join the Australian Associated Press. In May 1967, he was chosen from over 100 applicants and in December was posted to Vietnam where he became the Senior Australian Associated Press correspondent, covering the Vietnam war.[2]

Vietnam

Birch was often in the thick of things during the Tet offensive of 1968. It was on 5 May, when he and three other correspondents were covering events in the Saigon suburb of Cholon, that he, along with the others, was ambushed and killed by the Vietcong.[2] The three other journalists were: Time magazine correspondent John Cantwell, 29, from Sydney and two Reuters men, Bruce Pigott, 23, from Melbourne, and Cornish-born Ronald Laramy, 31 [3][4]

Birch, who was 24 when he died, was also a poet and two of his poems, Vietnam 68 and Saigon-1968, were published posthumously in the 1968 St Peter's College Magazine.[2]

References


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