Daily and NBN cover forum

Here's a link to the Daily Northwestern's coverage of the forum.

Here's North by Northwestern's coverage.


Say Goodbye to the name "Medill School of Journalism"

Tribune columnist Eric Zorn has reportedly obtained possible name changes being tossed around by a Medill committee. Lavine was asked earlier tonight in a Q and A for students about the possibility of changing the name. He said he didn't know what would come of a name change. Check out the seven options Zorn posted on his blog:

The Medill School of Journalism

The Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications

The Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications

The Medill School of News Media and Integrated Marketing Communications

The Medill School of Audience and Consumer Information

The Medill School of Media Arts and Sciences

The Medill School of Information and Influence

Spett Speaks

David Spett, the author of the original column behind this whole incident, has a followup column published on the Daily website.

Here it is for your reading pleasure.

After all the accusations against Spett's reporting, it is worth a read.


NBN confirms no one said the quote

North by Northwestern has published the results of its own investigation of Spett's reporting. The five contributors to the report contacted all 12 Medill students and 10 of the 17 non-Medill students, all of whom denied ever saying the quote in question. Six of the other seven did not reply, and the last one agreed to an interview but never followed up.

You can read the entire report here.

This is yet another investigation of the source of the quote that has taken place outside of the provost's office. This blog has confirmed that the five Medill juniors were not contacted during the provost's investigation.

Also, quick reminder: the dean will be available to answer questions from students tomorrow night at McCormick Tribune Center at 5:30 p.m.

Zorn: Hayden's letter petulant and weak

Eric Zorn covers the latest development, Tom Hayden's letter, in his blog Change of Subject. Read the full article here.

One important point to make: Zorn corrects Hayden's assertion that Hayden was not contacted. Zorn emailed Hayden on February 20, according to his blog, even though there was no reason to assume Hayden would have anything substantive to say on the matter. Hayden, remember, wrote this:
I find it interesting and troubling that only two reporters attempted to contact me throughout this fabricated media drama. I agreed to speak with one of the two. He seems to be a serious and sincere young man who writes for northbynorthwestern.com. Unless I completely misread him, he appears interested in getting to the truth. With all the things I’ve read over the past weeks and months, I sometimes wonder if there are any others out there searching for the truth.
Whether or not Zorn is the other reporter, the one who is not serious or sincere or interested in getting the truth, remains a mystery.


A letter from Professor Tom Hayden

This morning, Tom Hayden sent out a letter to the Medill community about Quotegate. Professor Hayden taught IMC 303, the class that the dean referenced in his letter to alumni.

Some of the main points from his letter:

Professor Hayden is upset that only two reporters have contacted him regarding the story. He did not respond to one reporter but did speak to someone at North by Northwestern, an online news outlet run by students that has also been following the controversy. Read North by Northwestern's coverage here.

He also recalled conversations with four former students about the coverage by columnist David Spett. Three of these four students refused to talk to David. The last one told Professor Hayden he believed the quote, "reflected how everyone in the class felt." All four of these students are anonymous to protect the student-teacher relationship.

Finally, Professor Hayden worries about the anti-Medill sentiment in the faculty, the students and the alumni. Some students, he writes, feel intimated by those around them and are worried about "reprisal from faculty members who had signed the petition that was sent to the press."

Professor Hayden has every right to send this letter and makes some interesting points in it, but there are still some facts about what happened that are absent.

First, the five Medill juniors in question have now said several times that they were not the source of the quote. They told this to David Spett, David Protess of Medill faculty and Eric Zorn from the Chicago Tribune. All five students have confirmed to JournalistsSpeak.blogspot.com that the provost's office never contacted them in its investigation.

Second, the provost's investigation has set a dangerous precedent that similar sentiments expressed by those in the class are enough to conclude a direct quote was not fabricated.

Finally, the dean's silence on the issue, especially to students, has been disheartening, and the lack of transparency in all of this is cause for concern. We hope the upcoming forum (Wednesday night, 5:30 p.m., at McCormick Tribune Center) will shed more light on the issue.
The picture above is courtesy Medill's website.


Chicago Tribune: NU President Should Intervene

A staff editorial published in the Chicago Tribune's Saturday edition says it sees no end in sight for "Quotegate's" impact on Medill and Northwestern's reputations, despite a recent attempt by Provost Linzer to end the controversy.

The editorial calls Linzer's investigation into whether the Dean fabricated quotes as "a carefully lawyered" and "mush-mouth" statement.

Linzer argued there is "ample evidence that the quotes were consistent with the statement students expressed about the course in course evaluation and no evidence to point to any likelihood that the quotes were fabricated."

The Tribune editorial challenges Linzer's line of reasoning as to why fabrication was not possible:

- That passage is evasive. Direct quotation isn't merely "consistent with sentiment." That's called paraphrasing. Direct quotation chronicles what a person said.

- That passage also is inaccurate. There is indeed evidence suggesting that the quotations were fabricated: Spett's research. Spett may have produced evidence that, on closer scrutiny, proves accurate or inaccurate, compelling or unpersuasive. But he certainly produced provocative evidence.

The editorial concludes 'Quotegate' will continue to be "embarrassing" to both Northwestern University and Medill, until President Bienen intervenes.


Chicago Reader: Medill Faculty Doesn't Take a Stand

The Chicago Reader's Michael Miner today reported on a series of resolutions that were voted on by the Medill faculty. Miner called the resolutions an exercise of the faculty spinning its wheels.

Miner also reports on communication between Medill Professor David Protess and NU Provost Daniel Linzer regarding the legitimacy of Linzer's investigation.
See the full story here



What: The Undergraduate Student Advisory Council and JournalistsSpeak.blogspot.com will host a planning session with Dean Lavine to look at issues of transparency and accountability – unnamed sources, trust in media, news and advertising relationship, etc.

There will also be a chance to ask the dean questions.

The point of the meeting will be to figure out what topics beyond these should be part of a quarter-long focus to learn and to improve what Medill can do in class, in our publications and in how each of us practices journalism. Be prepared to add your ideas for what should happen in Spring quarter.

Where: McCormick Tribune Forum Room
When: Wednesday, March 12
Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Come for the Free Pizza. Stay because you care about journalism.

Zorn: Questions Growing, Not Going Away

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn today wrote that inadequacies in the investigation into the veracity of the Dean's unattributed quotations are creating more questions, rather than allaying concerns of fabrication:
See the full article.


Daily: 'Similar' Not Good Enough

The Editorial Board at the Daily Northwestern published an Editorial in today's issue of the Daily Northwestern calling the Provost's investigation inadequate:

"For journalists, similar is not good enough. There is no point in tape recording and note-taking if a journalist can remember the basic idea from a source and present it as verbatim speech. Those working in public relations can tweak statements in order to prevent their bosses from sounding unintelligent, but reporters cannot rewrite quotes at leisure. If a person doesn't say a particular statement, it does not belong within quotation marks."

See the full opinion here.

Tribune editor: Investigation a 'bunch of spin'

Tribune editor Margaret O'Brien (Medill MSJ '99) and member of the "Save Journalism" Facebook group criticized the Provost's investigation of alleged ethics violations by the Dean in a comment posted this weekend on the group's wall. (JS.blogspot.com contacted O'Brien to authenticate her statement and publish it with her permission):

The provost's letter reminded me of the Washington Post reporter who had to give up her Pulitzer in the 80s after it was discovered the kid Jimmy in her story was a "composite" gleaned from other research. The difference is Ben Bradlee offered a humble apology while the super-resumed committee found enough to make a similar composite and said that was good enough.

I'm disappointed, mostly in the process. They owed a bunch of journalists a better investigation. Not a bunch of spin.


Results from the Provost's investigation

The provost's office has conducted its investigation of Dean Lavine and sent us this message this morning:
To the Medill Community:

As you are doubtless aware, concerns have been raised about certain passages in the "Letter from the Dean" which appeared in the Spring 2007 issue of the Medill Magazine, the school's alumni publication. In particular, questions were raised about the use of unattributed quotations, with some people going further to question the veracity of those quotations.

The first issue is one of editorial policy, and Dean Lavine in a recent message has pledged that the policy will be changed to require attribution for all quotations in Medill publications. The allegation regarding possible fabrication is, of course, very serious, whatever the type of article or publication. Thus, I appointed an ad hoc committee to review the available information and to advise me regarding these issues.

The committee consisted of three Medill graduates who have had distinguished records of achievement in journalism and the media. The committee included Jack Fuller, a Pulitzer Prize winner who served as editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune and whose books include the highly-regarded News Values: Ideas for an Information Age; Teresa Norton, a member of the Board of Trustees of Northwestern University and the Medill Board of Advisors, former managing editor of Crain’s Business Insurance magazine, former award-winning partner of Hewitt Associates management consultants, and retired founder of Vineyard 29 Enterprises; and Paul Sagan, co-chair of the Medill Board of Advisors and also a member of the University's Board of Trustees, who has served as news director of WCBS-TV in New York, co-founder and vice president for news of the New York 1 News cable network, president and editor of new media at Time, Inc., and is currently president and CEO of Akamai Technologies.

The committee unanimously concluded that although a record of the student statements that were quoted cannot be found, sufficient material does exist about the relevant storefront reporting experience and marketing course to demonstrate that sentiments similar to the quotes had been expressed by students. Thus, the committee found that there is ample evidence that the quotes were consistent with sentiment students expressed about the course in course evaluations and no evidence to point to any likelihood that the quotes were fabricated. The committee further stated that the author of a piece like the "Letter from the Dean" could not reasonably be expected to have retained for a year the notes or e-mails documenting the sources of quotations used in the letter; nonetheless, the committee advised that in the future such meticulous archiving might be desirable given the heightened awareness of the problems that can result.

I accept the committee's conclusions. While I join Dean Lavine in wishing that material demonstrating the sources of the quotations was readily available, I have determined that no violation of University policy has occurred in connection with the Spring 2007 "Letter from the Dean." I have confidence in Dean Lavine to continue to lead the Medill School of Journalism.

That so many people - including students, faculty, and alumni - expressed views on this matter testifies to their deep commitment to Medill. I hope you will join me in supporting the Medill School and its leadership as it works to ensure that the School's storied role and distinguished reputation as a leader in journalism education continue as it and the profession face the challenges of the twenty-first century.

Daniel Linzer

Provost: No Violation of University Policy

Northwestern University Provost Daniel Linzer issued a statement today concluding Dean John Lavine did not violate University Policy in his use of unnamed sources.

Linzer's decision was based on the review of an ad hoc committee of three Medill graduates and experienced journalists. Two of the committee members serve on the Medill Board of Advisers.

Linzer's statement does not comment on whether Lavine's actions violated Medill's internal policy.


Daily: Three Groups Meet to Discuss 'Quotegate'

The Daily Northwestern reports that three groups held separate meetings on Wednesday to discuss how to proceed with the Dean's quote controversy.

We, the creators of journalistsspeak.blogspot.com, met Wednesday to discuss plans for a forum to take place during reading week.

The Medill Student Advisory Committee and the Medill faculty both held separate, closed-door meetings, as well.

We'll bring you the details of those meetings as they become available.

*Just a clarification, since the Daily Northwestern article (although we appreciate the coverage) has a couple of errors in it.

1. Tricia Bobeda, one of the four blog contributors, is a junior, not a senior.
2. No alumni were present at our meeting, although we hope to involve them in this process moving forward.