Tomorrow, the entire student body is required to attend a special session of "Critical Issues in Journalism," an ethics course taught by New York Times columnist Samuel Freedman. In an e-mail announcing the meeting last week, vice dean David Klatell stated only that there had been a "serious problem" with the final exam. Failure to attend the session, Klatell warned, would result in a failing grade for the course.
Neither Klatell nor Freedman responded immediately to calls for comment, but students believe the purpose of the meeting is to exhort suspected cheaters to step forward. "It's an 'Out yourself or you'll all have to suffer' situation," says the source.
"Critical Issues," an all-school seminar, focuses on dilemmas facing journalists in the post-Judith Miller and Jayson Blair era. The class includes topics such as "Why be Ethical?" and "Tribal Loyalty vs. Journalistic Obligation." The final exam consists of two essay questions to be completed in 90 minutes. Since the test can be taken at any time during a 36-hour period, students are instructed not to discuss the exam questions with each other.
In this case, it seems a few of the aspiring Woodwards and Bernsteins were a little too adept at working their sources. No word on how the school's administration got wind of the cheating.
If the disgruntled posts on RateMyProfessors.com are any indication, Freedman's students haven't exactly been soaking up his sermons.
"Maybe he could e-mail his 'speeches' to the students instead of making everyone suffer through the most wasted class in j-school (collective punishment?). His ethical Fridays were a pompous exercise in self-adulation. He seldom talks about the readings and a typical speech always begins, 'In (fill in year here).'"
Photo via JWA
By Jeff Bercovici 11/30/06 3:07 PM
File Under: Columbia, journalism