3/27/2015: Just kidding. Gleason doesn’t think bloggers are journalists, and while he ran the process he wasn’t a judge. The real award announcement is here.
The post below describes a 2013 panel at the Oregon Society of Professional Journalists with myself and former Journalism Dean Tim Gleason, who has actively worked to make it more difficult for journalists to get public records from UO. The comments to this post are pretty interesting, including an exchange between myself and UO professor of advertising Deb Morrison, who tried to come to Gleason’s defense. Here’s a summary:
Tim Gleason worked with Dave Hubin’s administrative advisory group to make it more difficult for journalists to obtain public records from UO. With the rape allegations cover-up, we are now seeing the result in the form of serious damage to our university’s reputation.
Here are the comments Prof. Morrison made on my post about the session on public records with Tim Gleason at the SPJ meeting at Allen Hall in November, which is linked in the above post, along with my response then.
1) Morrison, commenting as “Unknown”:
Gleason continues to have great support amongst our sojc faculty and industry because of the work he’s done. He’s shown vision and integrity at a time when we needed it most. So stop this nonsense, UOM. Your being asked to speak to the SPJ was disappointing (at the least) and wrongheaded. What you do is nowhere near journalism.
Your value as leader and truth caller has been consistently devalued. Why? Snark, silliness, miscommunication, untruths, slander, lies. It’s meant to degrade and confuse. No one except your posse cares about what you churn out because the agenda is you, not the truth. That’s sad. And most emphatically, it’s not journalism.
2) Morrison, commenting as Morrison:
I hate anonymous posting. It’s probably the lowest point of humanity. So…
I’m UNKNOWN above. I don’t write press releases and this does not call for one. And I don’t want a long harangue with you and your followers, Bill.
But here’s the reality: this is the type of stuff that’s wrong. Gleason is not hostile to Freedom of Information and your post and the subsequent comments imply he is. The crap you’ve said about him and others is unfair and unethical.
That’s what you do: you make work of implications and gossip and innuendo and then you all chew on it as if it’s fact. I’ve praised you very publicly before when you were asking hard questions, especially around the Lariviere issues. I’ve worked with you on SAIL and honor you for that.
But as I noted in the other post, all the strong voice is negated when there’s constant misleading or simply vicious information like this post. The stuff you say about people, the attempts to disembowel and ruin careers, the side remarks that you and dog and old dog and anonymous, etc all peck to death has no value except as venom. You have your followers. But so many (most of whom are not politically active or in the JH culture) are simply turned off by this and see it as ruining the culture and opportunity at this University. There are better ways to solve problems and make things happen.
This is an attempt to be honest. I hope it will be accepted as such.
3) My response:
To Deb Morrison:
This post was my effort to respond to the claims Tim Gleason made at the SPJ conference regarding his history of support for public records and transparency. I thought his claims did not reflect the actual history at UO, where he has actively tried to make it more difficult for reporters and others to get public records.
I have more documentation on that I could post. But I think the post has made that point. Re-reading it, I don’t see anything excessively personal it it, and in contrast there is plenty of substantive information, facts, documentation, and an accurate portrayal of what Gleason said at the session, and how it was received by the reporters present.
In contrast, your comment on this post says:
“But here’s the reality: this is the type of stuff that’s wrong. Gleason is not hostile to Freedom of Information and your post and the subsequent comments imply he is. The crap you’ve said about him and others is unfair and unethical.”
I don’t recall seeing you at the session. Your comment does not include any documentation for your claim that Gleason is not hostile to public records access, or any information that conflicts with anything in my post. Your comment does include a personal attack on me, but you also don’t provide any support for that either.
Obviously Gleason are I are not on friendly terms. You can see this quite clearly in my live-blogging about the union bargaining sessions, or in the “Open Letter” that he helped write, accusing me of being “anti-university”. At least I think he helped write it, UO’s public records office won’t tell me unless I pay them hundreds of dollars in fees, and Gleason won’t answer my questions about it. This is remarkably similar to nasty anonymous blog comments – except those don’t come on official UO letterhead!
Regardless, I don’t think you attended any of those 42 union bargaining meetings either, so you don’t seem to be in a good position to do more than give an opinion about the origins of that mutual animosity either.
That said, I’m happy to provide a place for you to write about me, since I think that opinions, even uninformed and nasty ones, can be an important form of civil speech.
11/3/2013: Tim Gleason’s defense of UO’s public records practices falls flat with area journalists
Should be fun. http://journalism.uoregon.edu/events/2013-oregon-spj-building-better-journalist-conference A few years ago the Oregon chapter gave me their “First Freedom” award for this blog and getting the Oregon Public Records Manual put online. Frohnmayer took umbrage, threatening to sue the Emerald over their story about it, which had correctly pointed out that he was negotiating his golden parachute deal with Pernsteiner at the same time he was trying to convince the UO faculty to take voluntary furloughs.
Rob Moseley had to cover a Ducks game, so Tim Gleason, who just stepped down as UO’s Journalism School Dean, gamely took his place on the Covering Higher Education panel. He did not seem to be happy to be on the podium with a blogger.
I started off with this powerpoint presentation, emphasizing the difficulty of getting public records from UO and showing some of the crazier redactions – like this one, of Lorraine Davis’s official job description:
Samantha Matsumoto talked about the Emerald’s coverage of sexual harassment at UO. An interesting story on rules requiring mandatory reporting, by her and Sami Edge is here. The mandatory reporting issue is a tough one, since it tends to reduce students’ willingness to discuss harassment and assault with UO employees.
Gleason went last. He started off listing his resume, starting with his work as a reporter and photojournalist in Long Island in the 1980’s. Ever curious, I checked google news archives, but couldn’t find any of his stories.
Gleason then talked about his important role in attempting to reform Oregon public records law, including an award. He did not mention his role on UO’s Public Record’s Administrative Advisory Group, where he has been one of the leading defenders of the UO administration’s clampdown on public records access that began with Bob Berdahl, and which has accelerated under President Gottfredson.
This was followed with a long complaint from Gleason about having an uninformed student reporter show up in his office asking questions, without having done the background research. A reporter in the audience responded by talking about how she found other people could be extremely helpful with difficult stories, if a reporter was up front about needing help. A lively discussion ensued.
Gleason then went on to attempt to give a defense of UO’s record on public records. The professional journalists in the audience seemed pretty skeptical. One said that they had worked with many state agencies, but had never found one that was as secretive as UO. I pointed out that OSU was generally more transparent that UO, several reporters agreed.
Another professional reporter raised additional questions about UO’s compliance, explaining to Gleason that yes, Oregon’s law allowed exemptions, but did not require them. I echoed this point. Gleason’s response was that UO followed the law, and explained the reasons for the redactions it made. I told him that they didn’t – the PR office’s explanations were nothing more than boilerplate.
On that point, here are some of my notes from the 3/27/2013 meeting of the PR AAG committee, including Gleason’s comments. These are not verbatim, but I think accurately portray the gist of the discussion:
Special Assistant to the President Dave Hubin: I believe we are operating within the law, which says “may waive”. But the optics are not good.
Public Records Officer Lisa Thornton: We apply the three-part test on page 20 which gives us broad discretion to delay and frustrate, and we drive a truck through that.
Journalism Dean Tim Gleason: Explain.
Thornton: I apply my judgement to ask if the citizen’s of Eugene would benefit from reading about this. (My god). Q: Do you explain your denials?
AD Spokesperson Pinten: Can’t you have drop down boxes or something?
Thornton: We google the requester to see what they are up to. (My god).
Even Gleason sees this is trouble: “It’s problematic to give you this discretion.”
UO Law Professor John Bonine: Oregon law was based on federal law, which contrasts public benefit with private benefit. Commercial is out. If it’s not just for yourself, it’s public benefit.
Gleason: Back on his thing about the burden on the institution. Bonine: First test for public interest, then ask if the extent of those benefits exceeds the cost.
Thornton: So I’m going to have to do benefit-cost analysis? Can I hire an economist
Bonine: Not only that, I want you to put your decision and reasons on the web. Provides guidance to requestors, reduces your unbounded authority.
Thornton: We do have discussions and back and forth with requesters about public interest.
Harbaugh: No, you don’t.
Thornton: Let me backtrack on my previous statement. UO General Counsel Randy Geller has advised me not to explain fee waiver denials.
Gleason’s response at today’s session was that reporters should file a petition with the DA, if they didn’t like UO’s redactions.
He then went off on RG Senior Editor Christian Wihtol’s piece today, reporting that UO had paid $24K to sex columnist Dan Savage to give a public talk. He argued that the piece lacked context, for example about what other speakers were paid. I pointed out that it had taken UO a long time just to respond to the request for the Savage contract, and that UO would have delayed longer, and probably charged a lot of money, for a more general request about fees paid other speakers. Gleason did not give much of an answer.
At this point the discussion about UO and public records heated up. I said that UO was still refusing to give student-journalists fee waivers, and wouldn’t even let them use their own funds to buy the public records. The Student Press Law Center story on this is here:
The Commentator was prepared to pay for the records, but on June 12, the school’s Associated Students leadership adviser told him in an email that the publication could not use its own money to pay for the records. The Commentator is funded through student fees, advertising revenue and private donations, according to its website.
“We officially heard back from General Counsel,” Consuela Perez-Jefferis wrote to Ekblad. “They confirmed that the incidental fee money can’t be used for an outside party’s public records requests because incidental fee money is state money.”
I talked with a SPLC reporter who was trying to do a follow-up on this a month or so ago. She couldn’t get anyone at UO to answer her calls.
I pointed out that the Daily Emerald was now reduced to begging for money online to buy public records from the University of Oregon. Ms Matsumoto confirmed this. (Click the link to donate, you’ll get a nice thank you note from the ODE Editor).
I then claimed that UO had *never* given a public-interest fee waiver to a journalist. A professional journalist in the audience said actually that wasn’t true, he’d once got a waiver from Melinda Grier, 10 years or so back. And now that I think about it, the UO Senate Transparency Committee once convinced Liz Denecke to refund $203 in fees to a UO student, for documents about the ORI building. So I should have said that UO hadn’t done this since the days of Lariviere.
Gleason then said that UO waived many fees for simple requests. I asked again if UO had recently waived fees for a substantial request by a reporter working for a regular newspaper on a story of public importance. Gleason didn’t have an answer.