Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is it news?

The Medill drama continues to snowball, and now Hamilton Nolan over at Gawker is mocking the whole situation, calling it “all that self-referential ivory tower bullshit.” Isn’t there something a little bit “people-in-glass-houses” about Nolan’s statement? Isn’t the whole basis of Gawker self-referential ivory tower bullshit? Maybe because this John Lavine story is actual news (rather than regurgitated NYMag and PageSix gossip hash), it upsets Gawker so that they treat it as if they’re above it in lieu of covering it.

It is an egregious error on Gawker’s part (as well as the part of Margaret Lyons over at Chicagoist yesterday who said she “barely cared” about the story) to treat this story flippantly. While this isn’t national mainstream news and there are bigger things to worry about in the world, watching journalists treat this story dismissively disturbs me.

For the dean at one of the top journalism schools in the country—whose controversial curriculum and proposed school name changes are exacerbated only by his heavy-handed manipulation where faculty, stripped of their governance, fear speaking against him on the record—to arrogantly disregard the ethics of his practice is news that should be covered, if only to force John Lavine into communication and transparency with students and alumni and to urge him to reinstate faculty governance among his peers.

EDIT: I'd be remiss not to mention the Eric Zorn's reporting job on this story. In his Trib blog Change of Subject, he's followed up with the faculty who did not sign the faculty memorandum. There are some interesting responses to look over, many of which are telling of the rift that currently divides Medill's faculty.

No comments: