CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon has long been recognized throughout the nation as a progressive, “maverick” state, although a generation of citizens growing up in Oregon may not understand the origins of that reputation.
A new book by former journalist Floyd J. McKay, which will be published this April by the Oregon State University Press, helps illuminate why.
“Reporting the Oregon Story: How Activists and Visionaries Transformed a State” recalls a rollicking political atmosphere from 1964 to 1986, when Oregon crafted and passed its landmark beach bill to ensure the protection of ocean beaches for public use. The state also introduced the nation’s first bottle bill after a heated battle, resulting in a deposit on certain beverage containers to encourage recycling.
The development of the Vietnam War also provided volatile material for public discourse and shaped the political views for U.S. Senators Wayne Morse and Mark Hatfield. The 1970s brought forth a new generation of activists in the Portland metro area.
Key figures in “Reporting the Oregon Story” are Tom McCall, elected Secretary of State in 1964, and Bob Straub, elected State Treasurer. Their political rivalry formed the backdrop for two of Oregon’s most transformative decades as they both fought for and lost – and eventually won – the governorship.
McKay had a front row seat, initially as a political reporter for The Oregon Statesman newspaper in Salem, and later as a news analyst for KGW-TV in Portland. For his work as a reporter and producer of documentaries, McKay won the DuPont-Columbia Broadcast Award, which is known informally as the Pulitzer Prize of broadcasting.
The veteran journalist chronicled numerous political battles and emerging issues, including the successful efforts of activists to halt a highway that would be built on sand in Pacific City, and the panic-inducing frenzy of “Vortex,” the nation’s only state-sponsored rock festival. The out-of-town festival was designed to draw anti-war and anti-President Nixon protesters from disrupting the national American Legion Convention being held in Portland.
In his book, McKay recounts the issues, the players and the results of these events in a compelling, personal account.
“‘Reporting the Oregon Story’ will be relished by those who lived the history, and it will serve as a worthy introduction to Oregonians young and old who want a first-hand account of Oregon’s mid-20th-century political and legislative history,” said OSU Press marketing manager Marty Brown.
McKay has a Ph.D. in media history from the University of Washington and was a Nieman Fellow in journalism at Harvard University. He taught journalism at Western Washington University and lives in Bellingham, Washington.
Copies of “Reporting the Oregon Story” are available in bookstores, by calling 1-800-621-2736, or through ordering online at: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu
Floyd McKay will read from his work and sign books at the following appearances:
- April 14, 7 p.m. – Powell’s Books in Portland (Hawthorne store);
- April 16, 7 p.m. – Village Books, Bellingham, Washington;
- May 18, 7:30 p.m. – Linfield College Library (Austin Reading room), McMinnville;
- June 7, 7 p.m. – Oregon Historical Society, downtown Portland.