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.

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