Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
Photo Gallery

Part:         Session:         Page of 512

“John: I would appreciate it if you would undertake to chairing a study group looking into the pros and cons of an Op-Ed page. I have asked Messrs. Reston, Daniel and Schwartz to serve with you on the committee,” so on and so forth. That's all I'm going to quote, except the last paragraph of this memo, page-and-a-half memo: “I hope that upon my return in November you will be able to meet with me the progress you have made on this study.”

It's hardly likely I would have been named by Punch the chairman of this committee if it weren't obvious I had been pushing Punch on this point, literally for years. I actually began it with Punch's predecessor Orvil Dryfoos. I'm sick and tired of the distortions regarding origins of the Op-Ed page; and it seems to me, at long last, I have a duty -- to myself and to journalistic history -- to set the record straight. I fought for years -- alone -- to get the Op-Ed idea accepted, and when it finally did materialize in September 1970, it embodied almost precisely the concept I originally laid out.

On February 8, 1967 Punch sent a memo addressed to “Mr. Oakes,” at the head of this list: “Mr. Daniel, Mr. Reston and Mr. Schwartz,” who was at that time, Sunday editor: “After re- reading the minutes of the earlier meeting of the Op-Ed page committee -- and having attended the presentation -- it's become obvious to me that the committee is stuck on dead center.” Then he goes on -- he wants to go on to revive the committee -- to discuss it further. Then a rather important memo, that I'm just going to refer to, one from me to Punch dated May 26, 1967. This is a memo to Punch which I'm going to read -- although it may have appeared somewhere else -- It's very much to the point of what we're talking about now.

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help