UNT Journalism Prof Says She’s “Disturbed” by Mayborn Conference

There’s going to be a very serious faculty meeting soon at the UNT journalism department, where there is likely to be a very serious discussion of the recent Mayborn conference. (Disclosure: I graduated from the UNT journalism department and was a speaker at this year’s conference. You can read Harvard’s summary of the event here.) This meeting may be related to the comments one journalism professor made on her public Facebook page, suggesting the event “seems to tarnish the reputation of the journalism school.”

Tracy Everbach, a recently tenured professor who teaches “Race, Gender, and Media” and undergraduate reporting classes, told me she didn’t want to comment to FrontBurner before the faculty meeting. But she’s made plenty of comments about the conference on her Facebook page. Last week, she posted a link to this DMN blog by Pultizer Prize-winning editorial writer Tod Robberson about two-time Pultizer Prize-winning feature writer and columnist Gene Weingarten’s discussion of the ethical dilemma he faced when a source offered him a loaded hash pipe. Everbach typed:

“I was not there, either, so I am not an authority, but the simple fact that people thought it was OK to do illegal drugs with a source disturbs me greatly, and also seems to tarnish the reputation of the journalism school. This, combined with the recent Dallas Observer blog post that made the conference sound like a drunk fest, bothers me as a professor at the school because I do not embrace these types of ethics and try hard to communicate that to my students.”

More outrage and Gene Weingarten’s response, after the jump.

When DMN writer Michael Lindenberger (who also happens to have a law degree) weighed in to say that, while unwise, smoking pot with a source is certainly not unethical, that it’s something on par with running a red light, Everbach replied:

“I am surprised at how many people are defending this man. I certainly would never tell my students that it is OK to do illegal drugs with a source, nor that it is OK to misrepresent oneself to get a story. I really am surprised that a working journalist, especially one with a law degree, would defend this…And to equate smoking marijuana with running a red light or speeding is ridiculous. It is an illegal drug, for goodness sakes.”

Then she goes on to quote from the Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics, which states: “Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility. Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment.”

A bit of background: Weingarten used his Sunday lecture session to provoke some thought among the attendees, giving a very interesting example from his own life as a reporter. While working on a story about the massive number of non-voters in this country — actually it was a profile of one such non-voter, a man named Ted Prus — for the Washington Post magazine, the main subject of the story offered Weingarten a hit from a hash pipe. Weingarten, who told the audience he had no more experience with pot than, say, an entire reggae band, explained that in this one and a half second window of time, the ethical dilemma he faced epitomized many of the tough decisions faced by immersed journalists. If he didn’t take the pipe, he explained, he knew his reporting was over and that he would have a “B-minus” story — the subject would never feel comfortable with him. If he took the pipe, he knew he’d be risking his job, as the Washington Post has a policy that states reporters should never break the law in pursuit of a story.

He took the pipe. (Weingarten made it clear to the audience that, prior to the discussion, he asked both the subject of the story and his executive editor if it was OK to talk about the situation in public and both agreed.) He said the information he got from his subject and his subject’s friends while passing the pipe bumped the story up to an “A.” He asked the audience how many would have done the same thing, and no more than a third of the people in the room raised their hands.

Then he told the story of a time early in his reporting career, when he was working on a story about a corrupt local government and went to a hospital to ask a dying man to explain the codes in his notebook. The dying man mistook him for a doctor and Weingarten says he corrected him several times (but, he admitted, he also took the man’s pulse one time). It was a fascinating discussion, to say the least.

Tracy Everbach was not in the room. Nor, to my knowledge, was Tod Robberson. But that didn’t stop them from passing judgment on the version of the lecture they heard about — or in the case of two separate DMN editorial writers, equating Weingarten’s inhaling with Rupert Murdoch’s entire sleazy journalistic operations. Because, apparently to them, smoking pot with a source is wrong no matter what, end of story.

George Getschow, the man who organizes the conference every year (and a former professor of mine), told me he didn’t want to comment on the situation, and his Facebook page is much less active.

One person who didn’t mind weighing in, however, was Weingarten himself. I sent him Robberson’s editorial and Everbach’s comments. This is what he sent back:

“Wow! There are so many underpants in knots here you could make a macrame quilt. So many earnest people. All of these great journalists really ought to have watched the address before they blow off steam about it, no?

“The only time I lied — which seems to be Ms. Everbach’s principal gripe — was in the hospital room when I took the guy’s pulse instead of shaking his hand. I SAID that was an egregious ethical violation, and didn’t defend it for an instant. I SHOUTED at the few people in the room who held up their hands to say there was nothing wrong with it.

“If Ms. Everbach thinks it is ‘lying’ to flatter a source, or tease him, or pretend to like him more than you do, in order to get him to be voluble or relaxed, I wonder how much actual field experience she has as a reporter. If she teaches her students that a writer must always tell his source exactly what he is thinking, that is seriously naive; she is sending them off ill-equipped for the real world.  It is best to be straightforward; it is sometimes unwise to be completely transparent.

“My other point with this hospital-room anecdote was that this story was about a grave matter of real public interest — municipal corruption. I was making my decisions not just because I wanted a good story, but because that story was important for people to know about.

“As far as smoking pot with someone — yes, I saw it as no different from having a couple of beers with a source.  I don’t actually feel that one was really an ethical question at all — it wasn’t dishonest and it wasn’t immoral, in my opinion — it was against a rule of my employer, and against a small law. (Would Robberson be as huffy if I had driven too fast, or jaywalked? Are you alls really that fuddy down there about personal pot use?)

“I made that decision knowing I might get in trouble for it with my employer, and was prepared to be punished without complaint. But I felt I had conflicting duties to my story. I should point out that I told the group that The Post disapproved of what I did, which I learned when I talked to my former executive editor, Len Downie, about it before the Mayborn. Downie told me that I would have been reprimanded, and maybe worse. I told this to the conference. My point in ALL of this was to show that real-world journalistic decisions can be complicated.

“Yes, it’s possible I could have gotten the cooperation I got without joining the party. Could be. Could’ve taken that chance.  But I also could’ve been iced out, big time.  I chose one route over the other because — to reiterate — I didn’t feel it was dishonest or misleading or revealing of a character flaw in me.   It wound up benefiting the story enormously.

“You’ve got a LOT of high horses down there in Dallas. I should say that even though this thing got some play on Romenesko, and I did a national chat about it, no one’s been exercised the way you folks in Texas seem to be.

“I hereby declare and aver and publish that Mr. Robberson is the son of a thief, based on his name. I could do more research, but what the hell?  He made assumptions without checking, so I’ll do the same. Why are you letting sons of thieves edit your newspapers down there?”


  • mediawonk

    The Mayborn conference seems to be a good example of “the free exchange of ideas.” Perhaps Weingarten skirts ethical lines more than some, but it’s not like having him speak at the conference automatically means that UNT or the j-school are wholeheartedly endorsing his ideas. He was sharing experiences in the field, for better or worse, and it’s ultimately up to the audience to decide.

    There are more serious issues in journalism right now that are worth discussion – this seems to be much ado about (almost) nothing.

  • Sean

    Love Tracy Everbach. I was a night rewrite at the DMN when she was a night GA. She taught me a lot and her students are well served as she has vast experience.
    She also has very strong ethical opinions. I remember trying to get info on a tornado that hit near Eagle Mountain Lake. I was worried no one would talk to some scrub rewrite, so I thought about pretending to be someone else. I got a stern lecture from (now) Dr. Everbach on that.
    Also, as a bit of background, we both worked with a reporter who took a hit from a crack pipe to get a story while at the DMN. That reporter was soon dismissed. She’s seen it happen.
    I’m not defending or condemning Tracy’s comments and response. I’m just offering a little more context.

  • I was there for the talk, and while I was one of the hands OK with what GW did, I did think there was a very interesting ethical dilemma about his decision to violate policy and not tell his editor. My issue wasn’t the pot– if the Post had a no-exceptions rule against green shirts and he wore a green shirt, it raises issues. And I wonder if a cub reporter would be given the same latitude — or an editor who didn’t let on he knew one of his staffers was an illegal immigrant?

    Also interesting is that the talk immediately prior was filled with all kinds of examples of potential ethical violations: https://journalism.unt.edu/maybornconference/lecture-descriptions#Smith

    I took the talks as good starting points for conversation and reflection — definitely not as a model to follow.

    I’m also a big fan of Tracy’s and of the school. (Disclosure: likely working with Mayborn on a project this Fall.) Hopefully all worked out soon…

  • Vseslav Botkin

    If you want to smoke some weed with someone, I have no problem with it. But to elevate it into some network-cop-drama trust thing is a tad self-indulgent. I can’t remember a single pot smoker in all my puff who determines someone’s trustworthiness by whether or not they casually turn down pot.

  • Sanctimony is an ugly garb.

  • Don

    Landauer’s editorial almost made me spit out my coffee. After relating the stories of Ted Conover (assisting illegal immigrants in traveling within the US, illegal border crossing, trespassing on a freight train) and Susan Casey (trespassing on federal property) he says Weingarten “provided the two most troubling cases.”

    Smoking a recreational drug offered by a source is more troubling to him than the previous cases? Getting information from a delusional man that brought to light the ways citizens were being bilked by their elected representatives is worse than assisting in violating immigration laws?

    That’s just the height of insanity and I pray with all my might that the men and women working in our nation’s media don’t sign on to this lily-livered half-assed idea of what is beyond the pale in getting a story. In this insane pursuit of not offending anyone and living within the strictures of one country we have major newspapers who use the term “torture” when talking about the actions of most governments and “enhanced interrogation” when talking about our own.

    I call hooey. Journalists decades ago ignored immoral laws against the victimless crimes of mingling with other races in order to get important stories. I hope contemporary ones continue to refuse to toe an arbitrary line so that some high-minded people more interested in process that truth can feel good about themselves while failing the citizenry.

  • amy

    This sounds like some overwrought bulllllshit to me. Weingarten is right, we are just a bit too prudey about pot smoking.

  • If they weren’t self righteous judgmental prigs they wouldn’t have gotten the position they now hold.

    Don’t forget this lecture on journalism ethics is coming from a publication that prints Mark Davis weekly.

  • Jake Batsell

    “Meaty sizzle,” “macrame quilt” — that Gene Weingarten sure does know how to lead off with a chuckle. What’s not so funny is his recent habit of demeaning journalism professors who try to teach their students the right thing, like the modern necessity of personal branding or the inexcusability of doing drugs with a source. Weingarten already has been eviscerated by Alan Mutter, Steve Buttry and Northwestern j-prof Owen Youngman on the personal branding issue, so I won’t pile on here. But when Weingarten said taking that pipe lifted his story from a B- to an A, Dr. Everbach (who also happens to be my wife), whether she was in the room or not, was right to call him out on it. It’s a dubious example for any j-student to follow, including mine at SMU.

    Buttry’s blog post summarizes the fallout from Weingarten’s personal branding column: http://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/gene-weingarten-has-a-powerful-personal-brand/

  • Former Manhattanite

    There’s a well-known story among New York newspaper circles of how the now-retired New York Post columnist/tabloid god Steve Dunleavy scooped the competition on the final Son of Sam killing back in the day. One of the shooting victims, Stacy Moskowitz, did not die at the scene, but several hours later at the hospital. Dunleavy got a tip from a police source that Moskowitz was taken to a particular hospital that was not the one everybody expected her to be delivered to. Dunleavy got there and found that he was the first reporter on the scene … and he was in the private waiting room with the Moskowitz family. Dunleavy put on a white doctor’s coat, and told hospital security to keep the press far away from that particular room. That’s how he had the Moskowitzes all to himself, while the reporters howled outside, and got a front-page exclusive (he did not misrepresent himself to the Moskowitzes, only to hospital security).

    I think it was sneaky, and brilliant. I also think it’s ridiculous for the News to jump on Weingarten, and that Tracy Everbach comes off as a total pill.

  • Bill Marvel

    I have sworn off bloggery, which is like wrestling with pigs. The pigs may enjoy it, but you have to get down into the mud and in the end, you just feel all dirty.
    In this case, I’ll make an exception. I have no idea whether Ms. Everbach attended a single Mayborn Conference speech, presentation, workshop, or gab session. I saw her only at the Saturday night banquet, where she sat at the UNT faculty table, ate her dinner and left before the featured speaker.
    Speaking for myself, this was by far the best Mayborn yet for the very reasons that its critics have chosen to condemn it. Young journalists wrestling with the problems of narrative, especially first-person marrative, got the clearest possible picture of the ethical pitfalls and problems that arise in the course of immersion reporting, which was the intention of the conference all along.
    Judging from the conversations and some of the blog-reactions above, the conference achieved this goal in spades.
    That the back-and-forth over these issues continued long after the conference I can personally attest. This ongoing conversation — controversy — was easily worth a dozen dry lectures in journalism ethics.
    The trouble with some on the professoriate is they assume that students and young reporters are unformed lumps of clay that must be stamped by the teacher with the proper ethics and attitudes, without question, without discussion, without thought.
    Not approve of Weingarten’s methods — or those of Jennie Smith or Ted Conover, for that matter? Fine. A lot of us didn’t, or not in any unqualified way. That’s what a conference is all about, for heaven’s sakes. It’s not about journalistic schoolmarms of either gender hectoring and lecturing us on the attitudes we must adopt.
    I have no particular beef against Ms. Everbach. But in the interest of full disclosure — one of those ethical rules good journalists observe — I think she ought to report that for some time now she has been an open enemy of George Getschow and the conference he organizes. I think it also needs to be said that George’s classes at UNT have produced a large number of remarkable — and ethical –young writers and journalists.
    Also in the interest of full disclosure, I have to say I have been a friend and admirer of George’s and a regular attendant and participant in the Mayborn from the beginning. I owe a major book contract to the conference. (I’m by no means the only writer to do so.) Call me biased, then.
    I freely admit to an agenda, which is to see the kind of writing the Mayborn represents carried on.
    It is time for Ms. Everbach to reveal her agenda.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    Serious question for the ethical hardliners in the room: What would you have done with the Pentagon Papers? No question they were stolen material at the time of publication. (In the immortal words of W.S. Gilbert: “What, never?” “Well, hardly ever.”)

  • Jake Batsell

    For the record, Bill, we were both at the table for Conover’s presentation. You can check my live-tweets for proof if you’d like.

  • Liz Landry

    A few things I find amusing:
    – There isn’t actually a test, or panel that approves journalists or gives them a license. So, quote from any journalism ethics book you would like, but they are merely suggestions.
    – J-Schools, including my alma mater UNT, does NOT teach students in a responsible or objective way about ethics, plagiarism, or the job market.
    All of the presentations: Conover, Casey, Weingarten and a bunch of others actually presented real-life situations where real journalists make difficult decisions. I understand a Journalism Professor’s (including mine above) horror at the decisions made by these journalists. But, instead of lecturing us and acting so shocked and trying to shut down the conversation, why not actually engage, inform and teach. This was an excellent conference (disclosure: I have attended the last 4 or 5) and the topics and discussions it has sprouted should be celebrated and applauded. I am disappointed that UNT would react in a manner that is guaranteed to shut-down conversations and send new journalists out into the world unprepared.

    To act like breaking a law is unethical is actually the opposite of what you should be teaching. You can follow all the laws and be an unethical and morally corrupt person. You can also break laws and be the finest example of ethics there is. Not only that, but NO ONE is defined by one wrong decision. That is what the school should be embracing, the many shades of black and the absolute power of thinking for yourself and being a positive influence on the world.

    and, P.S. almost every single student at UNT smoked pot. Or had friends who did. Or, later, will work in newsrooms where people do.

  • Rita B

    Liz–I don’t know when you were at UNT but the students all have required ethics classes now and they are rigorous. They have a new plagiarism policy, too, that was not in place when I was a student there. It’s zero tolerance. However, as a graduate of any journalism program you should also know that your use of “shut-down” with a hyphen is grammatically incorrect. And UNT is not reacting in any official manner, as you imply.

  • Sean

    Rita B., I’m just spit-balling here, but I would guess Liz’s assertion about UNT reacting in an official manner may come from this first paragraph in the piece:
    “There’s going to be a very serious faculty meeting soon at the UNT journalism department, where there is likely to be a very serious discussion of the recent Mayborn conference. (Disclosure: I graduated from the UNT journalism department and was a speaker at this year’s conference. You can read Harvard’s summary of the event here.) This meeting may be related to the comments one journalism professor made on her public Facebook page, suggesting the event “seems to tarnish the reputation of the journalism school.”
    Wild guess.

  • Erm

    Underpants knots. Great band name?

  • Liz Landry

    @Rita B Oh. Gosh. In the scheme of things, I would rather understand what the First Amendment means than where I should stick my “hyphen.” But, thank-you ever so much for the grammar-lesson and I will make a note to not mis-use hyphens again as it is so offensive.
    Also, my issue isn’t with the lack of plagiarism policy or ethics classes, it is with the lack of substance in them. I graduated in 2005, so yes, I took them, but it wasn’t until I was in an ACTUAL newsroom that I learned about hard decisions and that there weren’t easy answers.
    @Sean bingo.

  • Lee Hancock

    Thanks, Mooney, for raising this one. It’s a hairball that’s needed hacking up for a while. Glad you’ve ridden back into town.  
     I was in the room when Mr. Weingarten spoke at the conference. — as were my 14-year-old kid & two of her friends. Somehow, the three kids grasped the intent of what Weingarten was saying with no problem. The girls discussed it at length on our drive home, concluding that Weingarten was their favorite speaker because he was simultaneously hilarious and thought-provoking and exceptionally good at making adults squirm.   
    I find it curious that three high school freshmen so easily got what some of my adult colleagues and Dr. Everbach so utterly missed. 
     Maybe that’s because the teenagers actually bothered to show up and listen. 
    I also find it curious that this isn’t this particular professor’s first spate of conference bashing.  Last summer, when a student asked her Facebook community whether the conference would make her a better writer, the professor posted a one-word retort: ‘no.’ The prof went on diss last year’s keynote speaker, Mark Bowden, in a manner similar to her recent quip questioning whether this year’s keynote, Ted Conover, should be considered a real journalist. (note:  Bowden writes for Vanity Fair & The Atlantic & has best-selling books such as Black Hawk Down & Conover writes for the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine & The Atlantic, has five acclaimed books & heads a journalism institute at NYU.)
    Funny how many actual writers, folks who have taken the time to attend conference sessions — folks including Pulitzer & national magazine  & national book award winners, best-selling authors, major magazine editors and noted agents and serious academics  – would disagree with the professor’s conclusions.      
    Jeff Weiss raises a thought  about venue. Granted, the ax wasn’t being swung from a blog or media site. Yet the professor’s remarks went out to a number of UNT students & professional media types (including me), and they are publicly accessible.  So Mooney is hardly calling somebody out here for a private posting indiscretion.   
     Full disclosure:  Getschow is a friend & mentor.  I’ve taken my daughter & other kids to two conferences & helped start a scholarship for young writers to attend the annual gathering. I have also encouraged relatives to write a check to the Mayborn. And they are dropping sizeable coin because they are impressed with its commitment to teaching new generations of storytellers.   
    That said, I share Bill Marvel’s question about the professor’s agenda. Why would anybody make such an effort to trash the one thing that has brought so many nationally known writers & editors & so many accolades to UNT’s Mayborn school of journalism? 
    And here’s a tip to those who swoon at the notion of adult beverages being consumed to excess at a journalism conference (journalists drinking? I’m shocked!):  Another conference rolls through these parts about the same time every summer. It might be more your style, complete with teetotaling. Why not give the Mayborn a rest & check out the Mary Kay convention next year?

  • Liz Landry

    @Lee Hancock I heart you. And, I sat near you and your daughter and her friends. Thank goodness people like you are also raising and influencing the journalists and writers and innovators of tomorrow.

  • Full Disclosure: I am the co-founder of the Mayborn Conference and I attended the session in which Gene Weingarten spoke. I thought his comments and opinions raised serious questions about how messy reporting controversial stories can become when journalists push the envelope of ethical convention. I disagree with his utilitarian approach and believe that human dignity should never be sacrificed on the altar of getting the story at any cost. I disagree with Mr. Weingarten, but I am delighted he was candid and transparent because his lively and entertaining discussion gave all us an opportunity to weigh in via the blogs that we do not agree with him. I am proud to have taught media ethics 17 years at the Mayborn School and disdain Weingarten’s approach. But I would invite him to address the subject again because we have an opportunity to take a stand. Three cheers for a marvelous 7th year of the Mayborn Conference!

  • Stanton

    Liz, as a professional, I would hope that you were concerned with grammar. Hopefully, you have a good copy editor. Also, if you graduated in 2005, you did not receive a degree from the Mayborn School of Journalism. It was non-existent at that point in time. Either way, you said you were more concerned with the 1st amendment. If that is the case, isn’t Dr. E entitled to exercise her free speech as well? Or is that right only afforded to people who agree with you? You know, there was another group of people who only allowed free speech to sympathizers. They were called Nazis.

  • Stanton

    By the way, that is not an attack on you. People should be allowed to express themselves…I just think it is lame that some would qualify this as “news.”

  • Jacob, The

    Oh, come on guys. Even Dr. Everbach would think that is too much censorship.

  • Everclear

    OK, it’s time for D Magazine to return to reporting relevant news the readers of this esteemed piece of journalism care about–stuff like who’s going to decorate Glenn Beck’s house, who the best boob surgeons in Dallas are and which socialites are hiring day laborers in order to give illegal immigrants a job.

  • Tod Robberson’s level of outrage is inversely proportionate to his overall mediocrity, and he’s always had a zealous, Reefer Madness hate-on about pot.

  • Dave Tarrant

    Amen to the comments of my Dallas Morning News colleagues Bill Marvel and Lee Hanc-ck, as well as others who understand that the point of the Mayborn conference is to share experiences and learn from each other. By bringing together journalists and other writers of all ages — most of them mid-career — it creates an atmosphere allowing people to share their writing, talk about what worked and what didn’t, and ask for feedback. (In the old days, newspaper types in Dallas would gather at the old Joe Miller’s bar or Louie’s and more or less do the same thing.) A key part of the Mayborn conference is the writing workshop experience. There are five workshops held the Friday before the speaker sessions start. (At each of these workshops, writers present their personal essays or reported stories and receive feedback — the good, the bad and, yes, even the ugly. (For the record, I lead one of the workshops.) The writers listen to the suggestions from their colleagues and try to learn from them. These conversations continue more informally over lunch and in the evening around the hotel bar, in hallways, and elsewhere on the grounds. I spent one evening on the hotel patio sharing drinks and conversation with Ted Conover, James Morris (the biographer of Joseph Pulitzer) and a couple of my colleagues, including one of our interns, talking, laughing, sharing stories (usually self-deprecating) and experiences. I loved it. I imagine our intern was thrilled. As I think about this dust-up (kerfuffle’s a fun word, too) I remember what some wise guy once told me: There are people in this world who build things and others who tear things down. My friend, George Getschow, is a builder, and he’s built something truly inspiring, and hopefully lasting, in the Mayborn summer writing conference.

  • Liz Landry

    @Stanton Never said I received a degree from Mayborn, I said UNT, which is accurate. And, I’m not sure if you can hear me way up there on your high-horse, but if you think one wayward hyphen in a comment on a blog post means I don’t care or am not concerned with grammar, well… what can I say. Stuff it. I live by words, and while grammar rules are an amazing tool to ensure that we can communicate and fully understand each other, they are NOT the end-all-be-all. (Oh, look hyphens galore.)
    And, please explain how we in ANY WAY did not allow ANYONE to express themselves. Just like you are free to take me to task (for non-existent infractions) I am free to say that I think this whole faux outrage is laughable and a joke. I think UNT will embarrass themselves if they move further down this line of sanctimony. And, whenever someone busts out the Nazi line on something as mundane as a blog post, I cringe a little. Because you degrade an actual real horrible event. You should be ashamed for pulling the Nazi card for something that DOES NOT EVEN COMPARE.

  • Vseslav Botkin

    @Trey Surely you mean directly proportional.

  • Glenn Hunter

    @Liz Landry: Sorry to bear the news, but high horse isn’t hyphenated either.

  • Sam Gwynne

    Suggested blue-nose filter: set the egregious pot-smoking violation in Amsterdam. Do these folks still think it a horrific ethical lapse?

  • Stanton

    Liz, this is a quote from you, “I would rather understand what the First Amendment means than where I should stick my “hyphen.” So, excuse me for assuming that means that you don’t care about grammar (which you go on to discuss a “grammar lesson” from Rita B. in the next line—-by the way, a hyphen issue is not actually grammar, but punctuation). Also, you discuss the first amendment, but chastise Dr. E for her opinion and me for making a joke about Nazis. So, you may not be a perfect journalist, but you at least know what the word “hypocrite” means, right? Also, my point about Mayborn is that A LOT of things changed when we switched from a journalism department to a publicly funded school of journalism.

  • Liz Landry

    @Glenn Hunter Sorry to bear the news, but I am now just intentionally placing them at-will. Like a sprinkling of sunshine. And, I just love that out of everything I say and the arguments I make, “people” (Oh, goodness, now I’m bringing in quotes) want to give me grammar lessons that instead of making me seem stupid, make you people seem small. *Smile* XOXOXOXO

  • KevinW

    Since nobody else has, I’ll say it. A stuck-up prude cliche of a Gender Studies professor running her mouth off to a bunch of students and professionals (yes, Facebook is a public forum, especially if you have as many “friends” as Everbach and your account is visible to the public anyway) does much more to tarnish the reputation of a journalism school than a multi-Pulitzer winner speaking at this giant conference. What she has done here is not “standing up for her beliefs,” it’s widening the gulf between academics and professionals, something journalism schools should be doing everything they can to avoid. Notice that the best reporters in Dallas (Marvel, Tarrant, Hanc-ck, Lindenberger, Gwynn, Weiss, Mooney) are all one side of this, and a lot of academics are on the other. (Did I see the word “utilitarianism” invoked here?) Journalism, more than any other industry, needs to destroy the ivory tower mentality.

  • Liz Landry

    @Stanton Still not quite sure how disagreeing with someone is limiting or complaining about their First Amendment rights. I disagree with Everbach’s opinion, but more than that I disagree with the way she said, and I read it with my own eyes, that anyone who disagrees with her is unethical. I do not believe that is the place to start a very real, very honest, very necessary conversation. I respect her right to her opinion, I even would say I understand her position. What I do not agree with, what I cannot get-my-head-around, is her absolute conviction that anyone who disagrees or has an alternate view is unethical.
    And, just by your sentence “me for making a joke about Nazis” you pretty much show yourself for what you are: someone who thinks that an acceptable form of entertainment. I, as I stated earlier, HAVE NOT done anything to curtail your rights or Everbach’s. Simply saying that I disagree, and encouraging someone who is in fact a journalism professor at my alma mater does not mean I don’t want her to exercise her rights, I just want her to return to a real discussion without name-calling.
    You show yourself by your continual beating of a dead-horse about a non-issue. NO ONES RIGHTS ARE INFRINGED just because someone says you should shut-up. And, you use the phrase “when we changed.” Wow. I sincerely HOPE you are not a professor at UNT. That’s embarrassing.

  • Jayne Suhler

    If it’s okay for a reporter to smoke pot with a source, how about having sex with a source? What if the source is underage? Is that okay? What about smoking crack? A little kiddie porn with your source anyone? Imagine how terrific your story might have been if you’d gone on that killing spree with your source! You could have interviewed him from the same prison cell! Now there’s a good story. Aint it fun to argue theoretically about situational ethics? I daresay that any one of you, Tracy Everbach included, could argue all sides of Weingarten’s hash pipe dilemma. But that’s all an academic exercise and has little bearing on Dr. Everbach’s original post, which was to point out that smoking pot with a source is not a good idea. Her students follow her on FB and her posts there are often meant for them. When she notes that smoking pot with a source may be unethical and is certainly illegal, remember her audience. Tracy Everbach’s first responsibility is to her students, many of whom are not old enough to drink legally. She takes her responsibility as a role model for young people very seriously and some may argue that she had a responsibility to post her remarks. For those of you with children, I would hope that you would expect the same from their teachers.
    For the record: Methinks some of ya’ll protest way too much. Some of the posts here and on other entries on this (not very important) subject sound like personal attacks. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, eh? The sharks circle.

  • MikeP

    As the great Dave Barry (with whom I once drank a perfectly legal beer to help us bond) once said about the abortion issue, I just want to say I agree with everybody.

  • PR Chick

    You know Tracy Everbach had to know this day was coming. She’s been feuding with George Getschow for years, telling her students he’s an alcoholic and trying to discredit him. I’ve heard it myself. (I’ve also heard her refer to some of her male students as “hunky” and “hot” for whatever that’s worth.) Now one of George’s former students has a platform to show people a little of what’s going on. I’m sure Tracy’s former students can write editorials too if they want, except most of them are probably busy selling car stereos right about now.

  • Stanton

    @Liz, I don’t really care if you have a problem with my sense of humor. I still stand by the Nazi comparison. You are so contradictory. You say you respect her opinion, but you can not wrap your mind around…..her opinion. You don’t respect her opinion, because you would rather her not have it. That’s ok. People don’t always have to agree, but call a chicken a chicken. Don’t be as pretentious as you have been throughout all of your posts. Also, I said “when we switched,” not, “when we changed.” You should learn how to quote people correctly. It’s your job. Either way, I am not a professor. I am an A&E editor for “The Lasso” and am currently working on my M.A. in arts administration. You have been terrorizing punctuation and structure from the get-go. You, the professional, should be way more ashamed of your writing because it sucks and is inefficient….and I am actually a well-liked person, so if you can pass judgement on me, based on one joke, then let me quote Steven Tyler (accurately), “then mister, you’re a better man than I.”

  • Stanton

    Here is Tracy’s response to all of this: 1. I never wrote that I was “disturbed” by a conference. I wrote that I was disturbed people in the room when Mr. Weingarten spoke raised their hands and thought it was OK to do illegal drugs with a source in order to get a story. The three headlines are inaccurate and misleading.
    2. The two people who wrote the blog posts friended me on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. One was an alumnus of our program, whom I have never met or taught in class. The other was the editor of D magazine. I approved them both. I had no idea they would use their Facebook friendship with me to go on my page and lift my comments for their blog. I wonder if they do that to their other Facebook friends?
    3. I stand by all my comments and I am flattered that a blog that covers Troy Aikman’s love life, where to get the best martini in Dallas and who the most beautiful women in Dallas are would devote so much coverage to what a journalism professor has to say about ethics.

  • @Stanton: 1. She’s splitting hairs. In her own words: “This, combined with the recent Dallas Observer blog post that made the conference sound like a drunk fest, bothers me as a professor at the school because I do not embrace these types of ethics and try hard to communicate that to my students.” Bothered by. Disturbed by. Same difference.

    2. Everbach’s Facebook page is public. You don’t have to be her friend to read it. “Lift” her comments? When she says something like that, it sounds like she understands neither social media nor journalism works.

    3. Yes, we blogged about Troy Aikman’s divorce. I’m sorry that diminished our publication in Everbach’s eyes.

  • Liz Landry

    Terrorizing punctuation and structure. Hahahaha… that seriously makes me laugh. And, you’re making a lot of assumptions about what kind of person I am and how I really feel despite that fact that I have clearly posted to the contrary. And, sweetheart, you don’t know what my job is, but this is the comments section of a blog post. I’m not writing a story – I don’t need sources -and I don’t require your “extensive” Lasso editing experience on anything I write. I am NOT ashamed of my writing, nor am I ashamed of my comments, which are simply soundbites of my opinions. I was unaware that they hand out National awards or Pulitzers for comments on blog posts. Who knew?!

    And, when you accept “friends” on Facebook that you don’t know and use it to share your opinions, I believe that you have opened yourself up to whatever comes from that action. There are positives and negatives to opening up a dialog of your thoughts. But, I don’t know that it’s fair to cry foul when you handed the person the loaded gun.

  • As a young journalist who traveled to Dallas for the first time this year (and someone who’s fine with smoking pot, if you want to draw that line), it’s a little sad for me to see Weingarten’s “transgression” so picked-over. For all my enjoyment of Mayborn, I guess I didn’t fully appreciate what an enclave of unencumbered thinking it must be. Do we think the reaction would be different outside of Texas, as Weingarten implies?

  • Stanton

    1.Yes, but the way she was quoted makes it sound inflammatory. It sounds like she is attacking other journalists, when she is just stating that she is disheartened by the response of the students at the conference (and not the conference itself as your publication has implied). She was also irritated by the coverage of the conference….not the actual conference itself. The proof is in the pudding (aka,the quote you used from her in your previous post).
    2. True, her page is public but isn’t it at least a little suspicious that the people behind this story would friend her a couple weeks before the attack? It seems to me like they were waiting for her updates in their stream, so they could keep track of her (especially if they didn’t KNOW her). I feel like they were waiting for her to make a comment that they could sensationalize into a “story.” This is yellow journalism at its worst.
    3. As an A&E editor, I agree that the Troy Aikman story would qualify as news in Dallas. In my opinion, this story (as well as the racist fortune cookie of bad grammar story)diminishes your reputation far more than Troy Aikman.

  • Also, I’ve actually never “friended” Dr. Everbach on Facebook. I wrote to her, asking her to comment on the situation, which I noted above. I will probably friend her now though, because there are few things I enjoy more than a nice discussion of ethics.

  • Stanton

    “I graduated in 2005, so yes, I took them, but it wasn’t until I was in an ACTUAL newsroom that I learned about hard decisions and that there weren’t easy answers.”
    Again, I pulled a quote directly from you. You graduated from a journalism program and worked in an ACTUAL newsroom. As long as you are not lying about your experience, I am pretty sure I know what job you perform (news room custodian?). Good job back peddling though. Also, I am a PR guy. The Lasso job is just to gain some experience while pursuing a career in comedy. So, I am glad that I can make you laugh by pointing out that you have terrible writing skills. I only made assumptions about you, because you made them about me first. Like I said earlier, “hypocrite.” But, I will be the sweetheart that you so ruefully accuse me of being, and I will let you have the last word because I simply don’t care about what you have to say.

  • @Stanton: 2. I friended her on or about June 13, when she put up (and then removed) her comments about our cover. The purpose of the friending was so that I could direct message her and explain that, in fact, we had NOT altered the photo of Gail Warrior (Everbach had claimed we lightened her skin and enhanced her cleavage).

    I didn’t say anything publicly about Everbach’s mistake at the time because she seemed to realize it (as evidenced by the fact that she removed the comments from her Facebook page). When the Weingarten thing came up, though, I thought Everbach’s previous Facebook blunder warranted airing. So air it I did.

  • J-No


    Mayborn existed then. I’m a 2004 graduate. Research. Awesome.

  • Stanton

    It was not the publicly-funded Mayborn School of Journalism. It was the UNT journalism department. I know this, because I was a student during the change. I sat in Busby’s room as Mitch Land came in and explained the significance of the change. Before that, Mayborn was just a department within arts and sciences. Research is awesome.You should try it. That happened 2009.

  • 5W&anH

    If a professor’s first responsibility is to his/her students, isn’t a reporter’s first responsibility to his/her readers? A lot of B- writing exists these days for any number of lame reasons. I am thrilled to find something good to read, especially if it seeks to explain why 50% or so members of our population can’t be bothered to vote.

  • Liz Landry

    @J-No well, I guess we should just ball up our diplomas since they are just a B.A., or in my case B.S., and not a coveted B.J. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I still managed to find jobs and that my class had quite a few success stories even with their clearly lacking degrees. In fact, the Mayborn still lists us on their alumni list. I’ll inform them we must be dropped post haste.

  • J-No

    I guess Mayborn just gave me that 2-year scholarship that let me attend her school of journalism for grins then….

  • Doug Swanson

    I’m a little late to this party–in fact, the party seems to be over except for a few people snarling at each other over in the corner. But I have to echo the remarks of Dave Tarrant, Bill Marvel and Lee Hancock, and say that with the Mayborn conference, my friends George Getschow and Mitch Land have created something extraordinary. The conference has spread UNT’s name in literary circles to an extent unimaginable a few years ago. Any suggestion that the conference has tarnished the image of the journalism school is absolutely laughable.

  • Rita B

    The Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism existed before the Mayborn School of Journalism. The Mayborn School of Journalism broke off from the College of Arts & Sciences on Sept. 1, 2009. This is public record. Prior to that it was just the department of Journalism, but the Mayborn family gave money to name the graduate school several years before that. This is probably the source of the confusion. It’s still the same school–it just sold naming rights to some rich people who wanted something named after them.

  • Joy Tipping

    1) Disagree with Tracy’s opinions, but we should be glad she’s willing to stand up for them in spite of all this hubbub.
    2) I was in the room, and my primary reaction was that thank God this conference was digging deep into ethical issues.
    3) Funniest thing on these comments is how Lee Hancock’s last name keeps getting **** out.

    • @Joy: I know! Wish there was a way to fix Lee’s name but it also makes me laugh, so whatever.

  • BP

    @LeeHancock 😀 You rock! I’m one of the winning bio students and I agree with you a 100% about being able to figure out the gist of things, even as a student. It’s silly, isn’t it, how people seem to know “so much” about an event they didn’t even attend! 😉 Thanks, again! This article gave me a good laugh tonight. 😀 haha

  • Erik Calonius

    I have three suggestions for the Mayborn:

    1. Intall a five-second delay on the conference mikes, this monitored by a blue-ribbon committee (seated behind a curtain). Zap anything that might discredit the school.
    2. Install a sign near the exits: “Over-imbibing sometimes occurs at professional conventions, particularly after hours when the participants share stories and rub elbows. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN HERE.”
    3. Pulitzer Prize winning journalists should be pre-screened. What they say cannot offend young ears or put the school in a bad light. Double Pulitzer Prize winners will be escorted from the premises immediately.

    Other than this, let the Mayborn be! It’s the best writing conference in the country, and we all know it!