Thursday, April 21, 2011

Don't Ban the Innocence Project

Charlotte Allen at Minding the Campus writes about the David Protess case. I've written at length about the Protess case on my blog, and Allen's summary of the facts is not extremely biased (although, like too many others, she completely omits the facts that Northwestern violated its own rules by suspending Protess without any due process).

The possibility that a few of Protess' students over the years may have done something arguably unethical (although the examples offered seem extremely minor) should not surprise anyone, since this could be found among virtually every professor's students.

But I'm deeply concerned by Allen's belief that "innocence project" programs should be banned by universities. Instead of imposing one terrible theory of journalism (banning all advocacy), colleges should welcome a variety of different perspectives. Investigating the possible innocence of a convict is a wonderful way to learn journalistic techniques, and Protess' Innocence Project should be imitated by journalism programs across the country. Sadly, there seem to be no other journalism programs doing this, and the crusade against Protess (and conservative critics such as Allen) may ensure that there is an effective ban already on these programs. Our justice system, and our journalism programs, are much worse because of this.

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