Advertising Prof Deb Morrison uses Journalism faculty meeting to accuse Harbaugh of cyberbullying

I wasn’t there, but I’ve received a few emails from Journalism faculty, telling me that Professor of Advertising Deb Morrison used the occasion of a Friday J-School faculty meeting with UO’s VP for Equity and Inclusion Yvette Alex-Assensoh to assert that I was engaged in cyberbullying.

The official .gov definition is here:

Cyberbullying happens when kids bully each other through electronic technology. Find out why cyberbullying is different from traditional bullying, what you can do to prevent it, and how you can report it when it happens.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. According to online sites similar to Broadband Search, 87% of young people have seen cyberbullying happening on their social media.

I sent Prof Morrison an email asking if she’d like to meet for coffee to discuss her statements, and got back this response:

From: Deborah Morrison
Subject: Re: cyberbullying?
Date: April 24, 2015 at 11:05:43 PM PDT
To: Bill Harbaugh

Wow, that didn’t take long. I did see a few folks look up with a bit of glee during the faculty meeting so I suppose I did my part to keep everyone awake.

As Yvette talked about beautiful ideals of cohesion and collaboration and fairness and problem-solving (I love all of that!), I simply thought here was another problem of academe. We talk about this but no one talks about the reality that your blog and your posse is toxic for the campus community.

I’m sure this is no surprise to you. My take publicly and without anonymity on your blog has been that I’ve often praised you for SAIL and the Lariviere energy. I still appreciate both of those.

But whatever truth you’ve offered on the blog in the past couple years – and there has been some – is totally negated by the meanness, innuendo, libel, belittling, lying, castigation, name-calling, and snark that you’ve thrown out. It’s not fair or healthy. It’s bullying.

I wouldn’t mind having coffee, but it would have to wait til after a big New York trip I’m leading. Spinning plates til then.

Some of Professor Morrison’s previous comments on this blog, anonymous and acknowledged, are available here, related to a panel on public records, at a meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists at UO, with myself and former J-School Dean Tim Gleason:

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.

Bill Harbaugh