By Mark Greek
The tension between Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism and SBU Media Relations has gone viral. A recent blog post by Professor Barbara Selvin criticizing Media Relations’ reluctance to respond to student reporters has garnered interest from both current and former SBU students, as well as the office itself. Media Relation’s Interim Director Lauren Sheprow’s initial response was more than twice as long as Selvin’s initial 440-word critique. Her 957-word diatribe acted simultaneously as a fact checking resolution, and a defense of the Media Relations Department’s handling of journalism student’s requests for interviews. The posts are available online at Selvin’s Blog: Internet Revolution, J-School Evolution.
The conflict arises from what journalism professors perceive as a lack of access to school officials and administrators for journalism students on legitimate assignments. Selvin cites specific examples, such as a seemingly blatant instance wherein a broadcast student was turned away from covering something as ineffectual as a hotdog-eating contest. By comparison, the double-digit amount of comments that the post received is significantly more than any other on the university blog. The surprising amount of activity under Selvin’s initial post and its subsequent response has become another chapter in the continuing saga of displeasure and distrust between the School of Journalism and university Media Relations.
“I appreciate that students have assignments to complete… at the same time, it is up to individuals on campus to decide if they want to participate in interviews,” said Sheprow in an email response to a question about the perceived difficulty in finding willing University sources for School of Journalism students. When reached for comment, Selvin said she was preoccupied with class work, and preparation for meetings the next day. “Let the blog speak for itself,” she said.