Interview of Jefferson Guinn by Kevlin Haire and Tom Hanks

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Date

2023

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Ohio State University Archives

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Abstract

Jefferson Guinn describes his time as a student at Ohio State, particularly his experience as a staff member of Our Choking Times, the first student publication focused on the Black community at the University. Guinn started attending Ohio State in Autumn 1968. Over time Guinn became more politically involved as a student – he became a member of the Black Student Union and its successor organization, Afro Am – so he could help better the lives of the Black community on campus, including students, faculty and staff. Meanwhile, he and other Black students noticed there was virtually no coverage of the Black community by the student newspaper, The Lantern. With $2,500 from the University, he and a fellow student, Shirley Pat Wiley, set out to publish an initial eight editions of a newspaper, the first of which appeared in February 1970. Guinn discusses how the staff came up with the publication's name, Our Choking Times, and he recalls when the first issue appeared on newsstands. Guinn served as city editor and also on the editorial board, which decided what the paper was going to cover in general. Guinn discusses the difficulties in generating advertising sales as well as the newspaper's relationship to The Lantern and the School of Journalism. He also discusses the paper's coverage of the campus demonstrations, particularly how important it was to the staff to maintain a reporter's perspective and not participate in the events. Guinn also talks about the hurdles the newspaper faced after its initial eight issues, particularly generating revenue. Guinn left the newspaper in 1972, but he discusses his ongoing pride over what he helped start. Partly because of his experiences at OSU, Guinn followed a career in public administration, serving in roles to help the disadvantaged for more than 30 years.

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Remote interview.

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