Friday, May 02, 2008

Chronicle’s “Boobs Allison;” false credentials – Update

Readers Note: It will help you understand the post below if you're familiar with the following: Chronicle editor David Graham’s Apr. 23 column here in which he outed me after The Chronicle (TC) had promised me anonymity; the thread of his column which includes my first response to him and a Cc. to incoming Chronicle editor Chelsea Allison; and two JinC posts Duke's Chronicle outs JinC and A Chronicle editor responds to outing in which last year’s TC editor Ryan McCartney comments and I respond. The posts' threads are extremely interesting. I hope you take a look at them, too.


In an email last Friday to outgoing Chronicle (TC) editor David Graham with a Cc. to incoming TC editor Chelsea Allison I asked, among other things, whether the “Boobs Allison” bylined on an Apr. 1 TC front-page story outing me was, in fact, Chelsea Allison or whether others at TC had used her surname without her knowledge or consent.

I also posted the email on the thread of Graham’s Apr. 23 column in which he also outed me.

Graham’s column is here; its thread is here.

If you scan the thread, you’ll see the “Boobs Allison” matter is much commented upon.

Some commenters discuss serious issues relating to how TC treats the identify of people to whom it pledges anonymity. For other commenters, “Boobs Allison” is simply an opportunity for them to exercise what they seem to think is wit. I'm sorry Allison has been the object of such "wit."

I’ve sent follow-up emails to both Graham and Allison asking them to explain and resolve the matter.

I’ve heard nothing from either of them.

I’ve also noted in posts and in an email to Graham that the academic credentials he listed for me in his column are not mine. I’ve asked him where he got them and to correct them.

I’ve heard nothing back from Graham.

My current plans, subject to change as events dictate, are as follows:

1) -- I won’t make any further effort to get Graham and Allison to explain the “Boobs Allison” matter. A week and multiple requests are enough. Instead, I’ll publish in the next day or two a stand-alone post describing only the "Boobs Allison" matter and noting how it hurts TC, something I, and I’m sure many of you, regret.

2) -- I’ll make one final set of attempts to get an explanation and correction from TC regarding its twice publishing as mine a set of academic credentials which aren't. I’ll email on the credentials matter Graham, Allison and Ryan McCartney, the 2006/07 editor and this year’s editorial page editor. I'll post tomorrow letting you know more about the emails.

3) -- Early next week I’ll publish a stand-alone post dealing only with the matter of TC's publication of what it led readers to believe were my academic credentials.

Most of you, particularly those of you who are academics or whose employment is based on the possession of certain academic credentials, will understand how important it is that I make clear to everyone the falsity of TC’s claim and that I’ve made no such claim as TC published.

I’ll end this post with a comment in full AMac made on a JinC post thread.

Amac does a splendid job of concisely and logically summarizing a good deal of what Graham, McCartney and others at TC have been doing and some of my responses to it.

Here’s AMac - - -

Thanks for sharing this tale in all its detail. It is not an encouraging snapshot of the state of ethics at The Chronicle.

Readers shouldn't even have to click on a link to read the email that Chronicle editor David Graham decreed was off the record.

Here is that [email]letter [from Graham], in its entirety, from your 8/9/07 blog post:

Readers Note: To avoid any chance of misunderstanding, the [Off the record]which begins Graham's email letter was, of course, Graham's. - - - JinC


[Off the record] I guess I'm curious as to what sort of response you were seeking. I believe the coverage that we provide throughout the school year will speak for itself and would caution against any reading of the column that would suggest that we won't aggressively report on issues related to the case.

I hope you enjoy and are enlightened by it and imagine I'll be hearing from you about it as we go along.


David Graham
Editor, The Chronicle
President, Duke Student Publishing Company
Plainly, Graham's letter is content-free, unless he believed that the act of corresponding with you was itself damning. This is a strange variant of what we could call Seinfeld Confidentiality: an off-the-record demand that is imposed, not agreed to, and that is about... Nothing.

So, Graham seems to accede to this account:

-- Previous editor Ryan McCartney granted you confidentiality;

-- Graham learned of McCartney's undertaking and pledged to honor it;

-- In August, you wrote to Graham;

-- In August, he emailed a boilerplate paragraph to you, demanding off-the-record treatment without prior discussion;

-- You did not adhere to this nonexistent agreement;

-- Graham stewed about your disobedience for eight months;

-- In a call to The Chronicle subsequent to the pledge of confidentiality given to you, Graham read your phone number off Caller ID and did a reverse lookup;

-- Unknown persons at The Chronicle outed you in the guise of an April Fool's story;

-- David Graham outed you again in his April 23 Chronicle column.

This narrative doesn't make sense on its own terms. How could Graham's use of Caller ID explain his decision to out you, in light of his prior agreement to respect your desire to remain pseudonymous?

By any reasonable standard, this is despicable and unethical behavior by Editor Graham and his colleagues at The Chronicle.


Anonymous said...


AMac's remarks are right on.

"By any reasonable standard, this is despicable and unethical behavior by Editor Graham and his colleagues at The Chronicle."

As I mentioned previously, David Graham would not have violated McCartney's pledge of confidentiality to you unless he had tacit approval from McCartney.

They are both ghouls.


Archer05 said...

Does anyone really believe that these so-called journalists are ethical? Picture them digging their own graves, and the mourners are the poor fools that believed their rubbish.

The MSM needs to adapt to the New Media’s quick fact-checking, or die. Access to many opinions with facts, is just a blog away. I find I can detect biased writing very easily now.

Ken said...
“They are both ghouls”

Excellent one word description.