Columbia J-School: Exam Do-Over

First (and now second) reports are filtering in of today’s meeting at the Columbia School of Journalism, which was called by University staff because of suspicions that students somehow cheated on an ethics class exam. (The Friday section of the class “Critical Issues in Journalism” was compelled to attend today’s 1:45 p.m. meeting, reported yesterday by Radar online.)

Update, 3:30 p.m.: Some students have left the session. The journalism school administration has asked its journalism students not to talk to journalists, according to Gillian Reagan, our reporter at the scene. (Update: Some students have rejected that description of events, including in the comments below, and say they were not specifically told not to talk to the press. That is addressed more completely here.) In the meeting, no students confessed to cheating at the exam. The administration received a tip-off email regarding the exams and began to investigate. The suspicious activity is that the test–which is a take-home short essay test–was returned by at least one student in only 32 minutes.

A new (and seemingly extremely loaded) essay question has been distributed to the class.

Exam Essay Question III:

Write an essay of up to 500 words addressing the following situation:

You are the executive editor of a newspaper. You receives a tip from a credible source that one or more unspecified articles in recent editions of the newspaper contain fabricated material. No more detailsare given. Although word of the allegation quickly spreads through the newsroom, no one on the reporting staff admits to responsibility. As executive editor, what are your concerns and what do you do? Why? What are your expectations of the staff’s reaction to the situation and your response to it?

Be sure to justify the actions you choose to take.

You are allowed to use your own brain and whatever other nonhuman sources you want in preparing this essay, but you are not allowed to discuss it with other human beings.

The essay will be evaluated as part of the final exam. It is due by 5:00pm, Thursday, December 7, and should be placed in the box labeled “Critical Issues Essays” in the deanery on the 7th floor.

The memos leading up to today’s meeting follow.

Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2006 20:38:10 -0500
From: David Klatell
Subject: [j_school] FW: Critical Issues – December 1
To: J-School Students

I want to reiterate: this meeting is required of all students in the
Friday section of Critical Issues (those in the evening section are
exempted). We have encountered a serious problem with the final exam,
and will not register a passing grade in the course for anyone who does
not attend.

Sincerely,

David A. Klatell
Vice Dean
Professor of Professional Practice
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism 2950 Broadway New
York, NY 10027
Tel: (212) 854-3319
Fax: (212) 854-3939
E-mail: dak25@columbia.edu

—–Original Message—–
From: mgh2@columbia.edu [mailto:mgh2@columbia.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, November 21, 2006 5:29 PM
To: dak25@columbia.edu
Subject: Critical Issues – December 1

Dear Critical Issues Students,

Professor Freedman will be holding a special session of Critical Issues
on Friday, December 1, from 1:45-2:45 p.m. in the Lecture Hall.

Attendance is mandatory.

We know this was not previously scheduled, but we expect everyone to
attend.

(This message is associated with Critical Issues in Journalism)