Oregon Daily Emerald

Oregon Daily Emerald
The first issue of the Oregon Weekly

The Oregon Daily Emerald is an independent daily newspaper published at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, United States. The paper, which has been published for more than 100 years, has trained many now-prominent writers and journalists and has made important contributions to journalism case law.



The Oregon Daily Emerald is published daily Monday through Friday during the school year and Monday, Wednesday and Friday during the summer by the Oregon Daily Emerald Publishing Co. Inc. The Emerald operates independently of the University with offices in Suite 300 of the Erb Memorial Union.


The front page reporting the dismissed U.S. Supreme Court appeal

State v. Buchanan

On May 24, 1966 the Emerald ran a story, "Students Condone Marijuana Use," by author Annette Buchanan, which included seven unnamed sources discussing their drug use. The interviews were granted under the condition that the sources’ names would not be revealed. After reading Buchanan's story, local law enforcement officials convened a grand jury investigation into the illegal use of drugs.

On June 1, 1966, the Lane County District Attorney subpoenas Buchanan, requesting names of sources. Buchanan refused and was fined $300 for contempt of court. The case went through the court system until the Oregon Supreme Court dismissed Buchanan's claim that the Oregon Constitution protected her.[1] In 1968 the U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari.

Subsequently, the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a journalistic shield law.(ORS 44.510 through 44.540[2][3][4] The Oregon Shield Law provides extensive protection for all members of the news and information media. The statute provides absolute protection from compelled disclosure of both sources and all information obtained by journalists in the course of their work. It is not clear whether the journalist must have promised confidentiality for the source of information to be covered by the law. The only exceptions to the Oregon statute exist where: (1) there is probable cause to believe that the journalist has or is about to commit a crime or (2) where the defendant in a defamation suit has asserted a defense based on the content or source of the information.

Emerald independence

The newspaper became independent on July 1, 1971, completing a process initiated by 1969-70 editor-in-chief Paul Brainerd and 1970-71 editor Grattan Kerans but not finished until June 29, 1971. On that date, University President Robert Clark and Kerans signed documents creating the Oregon Daily Emerald board of directors.

Brainerd has said he was spurred to examine the issue of independence after an incident at the University of Washington.

"Anti-war protests were occurring throughout the U.S. and on the UO campus," he said. As a result of coverage decisions, an editor at the University of Washington was removed from office by the school's administration. In the legal challenge to the case, administrators argued that they were legally responsible for the student newspaper.

Court precedents said student newspapers had free speech, Brainerd said, but the social atmosphere of the 1960s led to a change in the line drawn between student newspapers and the administration. The current administration was supportive of the change because they wanted to avoid situations such as that at the University of Washington, Brainerd said.

The new board adopted a resolution to establish the Oregon Daily Emerald Publishing Company Inc. on June 29, 1971. This step made the newspaper independent as of July 1 that year. A headline on an editorial that day declares, "We're on our own."

Another catalyst for the change was cited by then-Editor Art Bushnell in the July 1 issue of the paper. "The reasons for going independent are primarily economic," he says in the article.

"In the past, the Emerald was unable to accumulate whatever profits might exist at the end of the fiscal year. Instead, those monies reverted back to the University. Now, we will be able to accumulate monies. We will have a growth potential that did not exist before."

The main result, according to the article, would be the ability to purchase and update equipment and the ability to avoid potential control of the newspaper by any group, "from the State Board of Higher Education to the University administration to student government."

The final step toward independence according to the agreement signed by Keran and Robinson was taken October 26, 1971, when the Oregon Daily Emerald Publishing Company Inc. was incorporated under the provisions of the Oregon Nonprofit Corporation Act.

Soon after independence was finalized, the Emerald took further steps to separate itself from the University. In 1974, the offices moved from Allen Hall to its present offices in the EMU, and the corporation began paying rent for the space and financing all other services that had been provided by the University.

Students still pay a subscription fee through the incidental fee, but the paper is otherwise financially separated from the University.

Newsroom strike

On March 3, 2009, following a management dispute between student staffers and the paper's Board of Directors, newsroom members at the Oregon Daily Emerald decided to strike, citing board actions as threatening to the independence of the Emerald. They issued four demands to the board at its scheduled executive session on March 3, and printed an editorial in the paper the following day that also contained the requests. The demands were as follows:[5]

  1. Immediately rescind the offer to Steven A. Smith to serve as interim publisher April 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.
  2. Conduct a nationwide search for a publisher, as originally voted at the February 10 board meeting.
  3. Stipulate in the chosen publisher's contract that he or she shall not be employed in any capacity by the University, including at the School of Journalism and Communication.
  4. Stipulate in the chosen publisher's contract that he or she shall not have immediate supervisory control over the editor; rather, the publisher and student editor shall remain equals in the organization, as the general manager and student editor currently are.

On March 4, 2009, Steven Smith announced his intention to "withdraw from the fray" following notification of the student strike.[6] The Board of Directors later stated their intention to conduct a nationwide search.[7] The Oregon Daily Emerald published a newspaper on the morning of March 5, 2009, without the contributions of the newsroom staff. A flurry of media coverage on the strike ensued throughout the day. Following statements of support for the strikers by the UO student government,[8] community members[9] and other student publications around the United States,[10] the Board of Directors and the newsroom staff agreed to engage in a mediation process the following week to fully resolve the situation. The newsroom staff agreed to end the strike and resume publishing the newspaper on March 9, 2009.[11]

Notable editors

Notable alumni


External links

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