A drag then, legal now

Annette Buchanan and her attorney, Arthur Johnson, entering the courthouse. (Emerald Archive Photo)

Annette Buchanan: A name that changed journalism in Oregon.

Buchanan was working as the Daily Emerald’s Managing Editor in 1966 when she was subpoenaed by Lane County District Attorney, William Frye.

Frye subpoenaed Buchanan in order to expose sources from a story she wrote about marijuana consumption, with anonymous student interviews confirming their use of the controlled substance.

Buchanan refused to name her sources as it violated their confidentiality and would discourage future sources from engaging with the editorial staff due to a fear of prosecution.

After Buchanan’s first refusal, a county judge pressured her to name the sources and again, she refused to do so. Buchanan was found in contempt of court.

Buchanan fought for what she knew was right and appealed the judge's decision to the Oregon Supreme Court. The Oregon Supreme Court upheld the judge’s verdict, but Buchanan’s fight for journalism paved the path for legislative change.

Seven years after Buchanan was subpoenaed for not disclosing her sources, the Oregon Legislature passed Oregon's Shield Law.  This law protects a journalist’s right to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.

Buchanan passed away in 2013, but the impact from her determination to uphold the confidentiality of her sources is still remembered, praised and practiced today.

Fun fact: Annette and her husband, Michael Conard, met when he was assigned to cover her trial.

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