Letter from the editor: Why we’re republishing archive stories from the ’60s
When I first started working at the Emerald as a columnist last spring, my old editor required her writers to spend at least two hours in the newsroom every week.
We were encouraged to come in to get help on our stories, but barring that, we could fill the time we spent in Suite 300 however we pleased.
It was in those two hour gaps every week that I discovered the Emerald’s archive wall. Located at the southwest end of the newsroom, the archive consists of several dozen tall, thick leather-bound volumes of the Emerald’s print edition dating back to 1920.
I pored over them like I had history at my fingertips.
Not only did these stories illustrate the effects of national and international crises on the University of Oregon community, but, as all good journalism does, they gave the opportunity for people to have representation — no matter how big or daunting the topic of discussion.
Less than a week after recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Oregon, we decided it was time to pay homage to our history as it was being made.
Our cover story for this week is about the lengths one Emerald managing editor in the 1960s took to protect the identity of her anonymous sources after she penned an article about student attitudes toward marijuana.
The story of Annette Buchanan is one of bravery and conviction. Subpoenaed and required to appear in front of a grand jury at just 20 years old, she refused to give up the names of five marijuana users she quoted in a May 1966 story. She even burned her notebook — the only place where the names were recorded — prior to her trial.
Buchanan didn’t emerge victorious from the legal battle, but she didn’t miss her spring term finals for nothing. Her case was vital in helping develop a “shield law” in Oregon, which allows journalists legal grounds to keep sources anonymous.
To help retell the story, we’ve spent the last week transcribing 14 articles relating to Buchanan’s uphill battle with the courts, the article that captured the attention of a district attorney, and the protections that Buchanan helped secure for future journalists and their sources.
It brings me great pride not only to be working at the same publication as the muckraking college journalists who came before me, but to be attending a college that played a role in the 20th century’s most pivotal moments.
From the moment I started reading about the Vietnam War or Civil Rights movement in those aged brown pages of the archives, I knew we had an obligation to share these slices of history with our readers.
If nothing else, I hope our republishing of Annette Buchanan’s journey serves as a reminder: we don’t need to wait until graduation to start making our dents in the universe.
Follow Dahlia on Twitter: @dahliabazzaz
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