Washington Post Continues Coverage

The Washington Post published an article on early Saturday morning continuing to probe the controversy revolving around Dean Lavine's use of annonymous sources.

Check out the article.


240 Students/Alumni Sign Statement

Medill seniors Aaron Gannon, Emmet Sullivan and Margaret Matray delivered a statement signed by 240 Medill students and alumni to the offices of NU President Henry Bienen, Provost Daniel Linzer and Dean John Lavine late this afternoon.

The statement calls for more conversation and explanation of the quotation controversy.

See the whole statement here.


LATEST: Dean Issues Statement

Dear Medill Colleagues and Students,

In the middle of the controversy over two letters to the alumni that I wrote last year in Medill magazine, I want to make what for me is a very important point.

I have been in journalism for more than 40 years as a reporter, editor, publisher and educator. I do not make up quotes.

But I did exercise poor judgment, and I apologize for that. I used a quote from a student in a letter I wrote in the Spring 2007 issue of Medill without naming the student. I should have asked permission to use the student's name with their comment about the IMC 303 class.

Although our alumni magazine has run unattributed direct and indirect quotes before, as your dean I must ensure that the magazine, as one of the many public faces of the School, should operate with the highest possible standards.

Medill faculty teach our students that journalism should be transparent. It is a mistake when I don't set the best example I can. Just as our faculty set high classroom standards for students learning to be journalists, as dean I should exhibit those standards.

Today I met with the Dean's Council, a group of 14 faculty and staff members who are deeply involved in teaching and in administering the school. We agreed to review the standards for all work published under the Medill banner. I will set up a faculty committee this week to begin that process.

I had hoped to write this letter earlier and quickly settle this controversy by providing the emails and notes I used as the basis for the letter to alumni. I and others searched my email from a year ago. Then we tried to retrieve email that had been deleted at the time when the article was written. After extensive efforts on the part of Microsoft, they said that after five days, the system my office uses permanently deletes messages that I have deleted, and they cannot be recovered.

My second mistake was that I did not save the notes I took in the IMC class. That was careless and something I knew never to do as a reporter.

Now, the matter has been referred to NU Provost Dan Linzer's office and until that review is complete, I have been asked to hold further comment. I am anxious to more fully discuss this matter with you when the Provost's work is done.



Lavine on Medill 2020 in '06 Interview

Firefox users right-click on the video and select Play.

or click here if the player doesn't work on your web browser.

Blog Creators Craft Statement

The creators of this blog want to give students a chance to voice all of our opinions and organize our thoughts into one unified voice. We agree with the faculty statement, but we think that students have unique concerns that need to be addressed.

The point of this blog is to start a conversation among the Medill community that is not anonymous, inflammatory and/or libelous.

To that end, we have sent this statement to Medill students and alumni and urge them to join the 240 students and alumni (and counting) in signing this petition to be sent to the dean and administration by the end of the week. The facebook group "Save Journalism at Medill" created by the blog contributors has 252 members.

If you have not received the petition but want to sign it, email savejournalismatmedill@gmail.com

Be heard. Be part of the conversation.

Is this 'worth all the screaming and fussing'?

Alumnus Terry Sacks doesn't think so. The Chicago Tribune quoted the 1948 Medill graduate in its most recent coverage. Sacks told the Tribune the controversy bothered him more than Lavine's use of unidentified sources.

The Tribune gave journalistsspeak.blogspot.com contributor and Medill junior the last word.
Tricia Bobeda, a Medill junior who created the Facebook group, questioned why Lavine hasn't discussed the issue with students.

"Now that this is out in the open, this is an issue of journalism ethics and it needs to be discussed," she said. "I don't want the dean's actions to be reflective of the standards of the school."

The Daily Northwestern published an editorial today about the dean's handling of this situation as well.


Northwestern: We 'take such matters seriously'

According to today's Chicago Sun-Times article covering the faculty statement, Northwestern's spokesman Al Cubbage issued a statement saying the Office of the Provost is reviewing the matter and that the university "takes such matters seriously." 

These are the first responses we've seen from the university itself.

Read the Chicago Sun-Times story here.

Faculty: Dean Must Produce Notes to End 'Crisis'

Sixteen members (mostly untenured) of the Medill faculty today issued a public statement calling for the Dean to produce his notes to corroborate the accuracy of his quotations.
In the letter, the faculty suggest the dean go as far as "have the IT department retrieve that deleted e-mail" to solve what the faculty describe as a "crisis."

Faculty statement:
  • Accuracy and truthfulness are non-negotiable
  • Dean's video of similar, not exact, quotes is "inadequate"
  • Spett's work praised
Here is the statement, as printed in the Daily Northwestern

The following faculty signed the statement:

Mary Coffman, Associate Professor
Douglas Foster, Associate Professor
Eric Ferkenhoff, Lecturer (photo not available)
Loren Ghiglione, Professor
George Harmon, Associate Professor
Sharon Kornely, Senior Lecturer
Craig L. LaMay, Associate Professor
Donna Leff, Professor
Arsenio Oloroso, Lecturer
Marcel Pacatte, Lecturer
David Protess, Professor
Larry Stuelpnagel, Assistant Professor
Mindy Trossman, Assistant Professor
Mary Ann Weston, Associate Professor Emerita
Charles Whitaker, Assistant Professor
Jon Ziomek, Assistant Professor Emeritus

Read the Tribune coverage of the faculty letter.
Read the Daily Northwestern's coverage of the faculty letter.
Read Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune's editorial.
Michael Miner blogged about this for the Chicago Reader.

Not a great week for Columbia's dean either...

An excerpt from InsideHigherEd.com's Quick Takes:
Journalism school woes: Nicholas Lemann, the dean at Columbia University, was trying to send class project evaluations back to his students and accidentally sent them his own self-evaluation of his performance, a memo intended for the provost. The future journalists promptly leaked the dean’s self-evaluation to Jim Romenesko’s blog, and he shared Lemann’s thoughts with a broader audience. The memo includes an overview of journalism education and the particular challenges faced by Columbia as an expensive graduate program. Lemann fares better on Romenesko, however, than John Lavine, dean of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Several professors sent him a memo, now on the blog, expressing concern about his response to criticisms of his use of student quotes in his column in the school’s magazine. Some students have questioned the quotes authenticity.

Chicago Tribune's editorial

From an editorial that ran in the Chicago Tribune on Feb. 15

The dean of one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the country, writing for that school's alumni magazine, should know that students will hold him to the standards they must meet. Unnamed sources should be used sparingly and only when necessary. And their identities always should be cataloged by the writer.

Read the whole editorial here.


We'll show you the letter when it becomes available.


One week later, Dean Still Silent to Students

One week after 'Quotegate' broke with Spett's op-ed challenging the dean's sourcing practices, Medill's Dean Lavine has yet to address formally his undergraduate and graduate students...and students are asking "why?".

Steve Silver (Medill '08) today joined the newly formed Facebook group "Save Journalism at Medill" where he posted this comment:
Is it just me or has Lavine not addressed this issue to the students yet? For someone with such a love for PR and Marketing he is doing a really poor job of image control.

*Silver's Facebook post reprinted here with permission.

We'll post Lavine's statement to the student body if/when he makes it.