Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Sad Loss of History Archives

Get in  your wayback machine mode and transfer back to the 60's and 70's in the Albuquerque area. Back then there were only three TVstations.

 I started my journalism/political public service career at KOAT TV Channel 7 as a weekend news photographer after completing training as an Air Force photographer in Denver.  I was a member of the NM Air National Guard.

I had always dreamed of being a TV Newsman since I was in the 8th grade.  The dream started one night when construction crews were hauling a giant office building down Marquette Avenue near Quincy Street where I lived.  The weight of the building caused the pavement to buckle and the dollies carrying the structure sunk in to their hubs.  I thought that was interesting and called Channel 7 to let them know and they showed up to film it.  Little did I know that just eight years later I would be working there.

Albuquerque and environs were pretty different back in that era.  There were lots of interesting things going on as the region grew.  I progressed up the ladder at Channel 7 and became a reporter and assignment editor and weekend anchorman.

 Dick Knipfing, Rodger Beimer, and I even had our faces put on to milk cartons as promotional advertising for our station.    We actually took our work seriously.  The above photo shows Dick Knipfing and recently deceased Fabian Chavez in 1972's election coverage.

Because there were only 3 TV stations then most people would recognize you everywhere you went.  It was all very exciting and the work was the most fun I have ever had.  We worked even on our days off because we enjoyed it so much.  And of course, to this day I think we did a much better job of covering real news.  Yeah, we did lots of car wrecks and shootings, but we also covered meaningful politics on all levels.

Now the sad part of this story.  On a regular basis we would send our 16mm film and scripts to the New Mexico State Archives.  They carried valuable information and history about our community and we and the archivist thought it was worth preserving.  I thought about that information about six months ago and wanted to start a new blog, 40 years ago today in Albuquerque, and use the scripts and films.  Channel 7's General Manager Mary Lynn Roper liked the idea and gave me the go ahead to use the material.  But guess what?  The New Mexico State Archives, supposed protector of history and data, had thrown all of the scripts and films out.  They said they just could not find them anywhere.  They said no one could remember ever having them.  But, I know they had them because I personally took a few loads up to them and then later in the 70s went and retrieved some stories for some court cases that required them.

So, think twice before trusting valuable things to our State Archives. 


Felicia Lujan said...

How very sad that you feel this way. We never just "throw things away." That is simply not true. I would invite you to visit our facility before assuming that we do not adhere to our mission, and that we do not treat all historical collection with the professional respect. Who did you speak with when you contacted the archives?

Felicia Lujan, CDIM, Archives Bureau Chief
New Mexico State Records Center and Archives

Jim Baca said...

I visited your facility and have correspondence with your staff. please email me so I can send copies of all this to you.

Gilbert Gallegos said...

I hope the TV footage can be found. That said, I would hate to discourage anyone from entrusting the State Archives with public or private records. I have had nothing but the best service from employees at the Archives -- during my tenure in state government and as a private citizen who has discovered incredible records from the past.
Gilbert Gallegos

Jim Baca said...
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