I sent this message (way below) to Colleagues in the Department of Film and Media Studies as a response to comments sent to them by Colleague Bernard Stein, a Pulitzer Prize winning news essayist. One real piece de resistance he addresses concerns a strategy that Colleagues were considering, for example, to deal with the ethical journalism issues that Colleague Stein raised in his email memo: Pressure the Hunter College Administration into attacking me for the posts about the HC-PSC-CC, and if the Administration refuses, for Colleagues to attack the Administration (in some kind of public campaign, I assume) for not attacking me.
Absurd and bovine reasoning, symptomatic of the kind of thinking of those who assert leadership in D:F/M.
Bullying* and intimidation and harassment are core values in D:F/M, so much so that resolutions of serious problems affecting the department can’t occur. Serious issues pertaining to principles of Academic Freedom or Journalism Ethical Issues or First Amendment Rights or Civil Liberties or Civil Rights, especially as those pertain to behaviors and practices and customs in the department.
The message of my response is below.
I’ve added brackets here and there to assist with the narrative.
I checked the material sent to me by Tina [an office administrator] about the upcoming faculty meeting and, lo and behold, there is nary a mention of this faculty meeting agenda matter described below. I seem to becoming in on the tail end of a discussion. ☺ [From time to time throughout the years, Colleagues in D:F/M like to spring surprise agenda matters on unsuspecting targets of incrimination and recrimination.]
There are beaucoup Stein comments and opinions that I don’t agree with but I have no problem publishing his criticisms.
I’ve listed a few points below, however. A more thorough rebuttal is in the works. Now, this may read as a polemic against Colleague Stein but it isn’t. It’s just that he has put his opinion in writing. I am more than willing to put in writing the opinions of others.
FIRST: The name of the publication is The WORD; the second word of the name is all caps. The original name was “the WORD” but I eventually capitalize the first word to make things simpler. Please be advised: “The WORD,” not the word.
SECOND; I expect Colleague Stein’s caveats – the obvious and subtle – to be ignored. This is a no-brainer. But they should be discussed and will in forums even if not D:F/M forums. That’s a no brainer, too. His suggestions with merit – my opinion, of course – will also probably be overlooked because of the culture of the department. That’s a no-brainer
THIRD: Colleague Stein raises interesting points but tripped up in several areas, which he will realize, if he hasn’t already, when I publish a rebuttal. [Because of the dynamics of the issues and matters revealed here, there are probably going to be a lot of rebuttals.]
FOUR: Such as, his opinions are his opinions, but I expect better elucidation from a Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist who has been nominated more than once for writing essays. I think he especially erred with his “critique” of Senior Editor’s Colleen Siuzdak’s article. [Remember, I was the Colleague selected to write the official rebuttal, transmitted to the 17th floor, to refute Colleague Peter Parisi's challenging his appointment years ago.] Note: WORD writers are advised that no matter how good their articles may be, it is possible that someone will not like them.
FIFTH: I wonder, for example, why he cites his stewardship as editor of the Hunts Point Express, as if that gives his comments a level of Solomonic Solemnity regarding Siuzdak’s bravura article. His purported analysis reads like a petulant and insipidly silly attempt to provide balm for a Colleague under stress. But, of course, that is just my opinion of his opinion.
SIXTH: I think his attempt to project an image of impartialness is melodramatic,
to say the least. [That's because of a truly wicked grade appeal scheme that went astray but more on that later]
I was at a meeting with one of those deans a while back and Colleagues Stein and [Peter] Parisi requested my help regarding their mutual publications (which I don’t think much of but, hey, that’s my opinion). I believe Colleague Stein’s comments have opened up another can of worms for the Great Minds in the department to deal with. They are getting a lot of practice, that’s for sure.
I was discreet long ago after two Colleagues and their minion, along with those fracked morons from the Student Liberation Action Movement, cooked up their plan to take over the WORD. So, much for discretion. We all know what happened after the plot failed, right?
I’ve already written too much but feel compelled to add this regarding Colleague Stein’s last paragraph, “To ask the administration to intervene or to criticize it for keeping hands off would be, I think, a terrible mistake.” I wish he hadn’t written that because that stratagem is the result of incredible bovine thinking and the consequences are obviously beyond the imagination of those trying to cook up such a plan. However, there is a chance that that caveat will be ignored. Hoo-
However, former Department Chair and Distinguished Professor Stuart Ewen did seek surcease from Former Dean Ann Cohen and was rebuffed (that’s what he said at that department meeting of long ago) when he and Colleague Tami Gold … try to do the dirty. There were rumors that the Former Chair and Now Distinguished Professor had gone higher up the pecking order and was rebuffed but as I said they were rumors. [The dirty refers to an attempt to censor the WORD]
But whatever my differences with the Former Chair and Now Distinguished Professor, I can’t imagine [him] involving him[self] in something so stupid. Others, yes. Him, no. However, these are the times for The Byzantine.
Below is Colleague Bernard Stein’s email memo:
>Since I’m on leave and won’t be at the faculty meeting, I’m writing in response to Tami Gold’s call for a discussion of Gregg Morris’s blog post and the Word’s “postmortem” on the children’s learning center controversy.
>I sympathize with Tami’s distress at the personal attack Gregg has leveled at her on his blog, but I can’t support her implicit suggestion that the Word be penalized.
>The language of the blog post is intemperate, but it criticizes her in her public role as PSC chapter chair. We may not agree, and we may deplore his nastiness,
but Gregg has the right to make his views known about someone who has
chosen to enter the public arena, just as the two parties within the PSC do when
they come out swinging at each election.
>The story about childcare in the Word is simply a recounting of a campus
controversy. As an editor, I find it poorly organized and overly long, and I think
it was childish and malicious to choose photographs of Tami and Kelly Anderson
with their eyes closed. I wonder if the photos and captions were supplied by the
editor, and I suspect that the third paragraph from the end was interpolated by
him: its judgmental tone is a departure from the detached tone of the rest of the
>However that may be, though, the topic is an important one and the student
reporter’s research was thorough. I’ve read the story with care, and I don’t
believe it supports Gregg’s view in his blog post that it shows “the PSC Chapter
Chair is making a declaration that is false.”
>But even if it did, and even if the story were riddled with errors and distortions,
it would deserve the protection afforded it by the First Amendment and would
deserve our defense of its right to publish unimpeded, just as Tami’s strongly-
worded criticism of President Raab on Hunter-L does.
>If the Envoy criticized the administration or our union or our department, would
we propose sanctions against it–even if we thought the criticism was ill-informed
or wrongheaded? I would hope not.
>If reporter Colleen Siuzdak got it wrong, the participants in the debate over the
child care center had ample opportunity to dispute her by writing to the Word or
the Envoy or posting on Hunter-L, and that, in my view, is the way to deal with a
disagreement with any publication, whether it’s part of our curriculum or extra-
>To ask the administration to intervene or to criticize it for keeping hands off
would be, I think, a terrible mistake.
Stein’s interpolating what he believed what I was interpolating begs this question: Why didn’t he just ask me? I would have no problem telling him what was (and is) on my mind.