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Harvard Law Dean prevents student newspaper from publishing her interview

Harvard Law Dean prevents student newspaper from publishing her interview

Better luck next time.

This situation can be looked at from two angles. The Dean prevented publication of the interview but the students compromised themselves by agreeing to vague interview conditions.

From the Record:

An Apology to the Dean, and to Our Readers

On September 30, the editors-in-chief of The Record conducted a brief interview with Dean Minow to discuss topics of interest to the Harvard Law School community. We had hoped to make these Q&A’s a regular feature of The Record, with the intention of fostering frank, substantive dialogue between the HLS administration and the student body. Ahead of the interview, we provided the administration with a general overview of the kinds of topics we hoped to cover. HLS’s public relations director, Michelle Deakin, agreed to the interview on the condition that the Dean would be allowed to review the article ahead of publication, and approve or reject the wording of individual quotations.

Upon receiving our initial draft, however, the administration indicated that they would not allow us to publish the interview at all. To quote from the e-mail Ms. Deakin sent us:

When I spoke of the interview being “off the record” and that any quotes would need to be reviewed by Dean Minow in advance of publication, that was with the understanding that this was an informational interview and that you might develop a story idea or two from the conversation. You have no permission to use any quotations. Neither the Dean nor I were aware that you were hoping to present these answers as a q and a, and the Dean will not be granting permission for her quotes to be condensed and presented in this manner.

To which we responded:

I’m not sure what you see as the particular difference between review and permission, but to be clear, we do intend that the Dean has the ability to withhold her permission for us to use her words. Of course, we hope that the Dean will give us permission to use her words or send us edited copies of her answers as you mentioned she would when you and I spoke over the phone. It would seem unnecessary that the Dean review her quotes if there was never any intention to approve any quote. Certainly, we think the HLS community would be very interested to hear what the Dean has to say about the variety of topics we asked about.

(h/t Badger Pundit)


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It’s well known in journalism circles, that “off the record” means you don’t quote.

Sounds like inexperience working here, and also the Dean using the rules to her advantage. No surprise.

They’ll learn.