On Campus

Student paper reveals journalism dean’s questionable sources

Dean being investigated by university for anonymous sources, quotations

The dean of journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois is being investigated for anonymous sources and “the veracity of quotations” in his writings for the alumni magazine.

John Lavine cited unnamed students in two introductory letters he wrote for Medill’s alumni magazine last year. He apologized for the use of unnamed sources today, according to the student paper the Daily Northwestern. But he still maintains that he did not make up the quotation.

One of the quotes, attributed to a Medill junior, praised a particular advertising class, saying in part: “… I sure felt good about this class. It is one of the best I’ve taken.”

Some critics have accused Lavine of making up the quotation to improve the image of the marketing class. Lavine’s decision to overhaul Medill’s curriculum – blending marketing classes with traditional reporting and writing skills – has been sharply criticized by some faculty members.

In a column last week for the university newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, student David Spett wrote he questioned all 29 students in the class and all denied saying the quote, even when promised anonymity.

Medill students are instructed to be careful in using anonymous sources. Professors often require students to submit contact information for each person quoted in their articles to guard against quotes being made up.

-with a report from AP

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