Media Blog

Medill Dean Update

More on the dean of the prestigious Medill School of Journalism and has suspicious quotes, this installment from Eric Zorn, who is on point despite the sanctimonious tone:

What’s the big deal?
The raging controversy at Northwestern concerns a few fluffy quotes in a fluffy essay in a fluffy publication. It’s hard to think of journalism that’s less inherently consequential.
But questions have arisen because the quotes, which appeared last year in the Medill School of Journalism’s alumni magazine, are attributed to anonymous students. And the writer of the essay is Medill’s dean, John Lavine.

Did actual students say the actual words that Lavine nestled inside quote marks? Or did Lavine create composite quotes and put them in the mouths of fictional students?

When Lavine was unable to identify by name the students who spoke so glowingly about new elements in the curriculum, a “deeply troubled” group of 17 faculty members signed and published an open letter to Lavine on Tuesday deeming the controversy a “crisis for the school” and demanding, in so many words, that he produce his sources.
“The `statement’ is silly,” wrote Martin Block, one of more than 30 full-time faculty members who didn’t sign the document. In a reply to my e-mail asking why, he belittled the significance of the story, echoing some of the reader comments I’ve received that add up to the first sentence of this column:
What’s the big deal?
Well the big deal is that the truth is all we’ve got in journalism.

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