NLA Discussion: Public Forum
David J Rosen
DJRosen at world.std.com
Thu Oct 2 21:28:02 EDT 1997
Hal, Nancy, Diane,Joye, Paul, Bob, Maria, Mary, Toni, Loren
and other NLA Colleagues,
The NLA list should continue to be a forum where subscribers can write
frankly without having to self-censor so that we can continue to have
meaningful discussion. I also respect the right of members of the press
to join this public forum. I would like to see us strike a balance
between the press' right to report the news and the adult literacy
community's need for a national forum where we can openly and honestly
discuss important issues. Leaving aside the legal right of reporters to
join listservs and report what they read in their publications, I think
Hal and Nancy have rightly raised the question of courtesy.
Mary Dunn Siedow has asked: "what's NLA's policy in regard to quoting
comments posted to the list? Should we all assume that our words can be
quoted as long as credit is given to the list?"
In February I posted to the NLA list this observation:
"Among subscribers to electronic lists are reporters.
Frequently messages here are quoted in at least one national
and maybe other publications. This is fine, but subscribers
need to be aware that this may happen, and that a reporter
usually will not notify them that their message will be quoted.
It is helpful, of course, if the quote is in context, and correctly
attributed." [I should also add, Mary, "and identified as having been
posted to the NLA list"]
That's the NLA list's current policy. Several of you have written that
you expect this list to be both a place where adult literacy issues can be
openly and honestly discussed, and also -- because the NLA list is a
public forum -- open to reporters, and to others who may wish to quote
us. My view is that we need to write openly, frankly, accurately and,
of course, courteously. Those who quote us, to remain in good stead with
the community, must be careful to quote in context, and -- I would agree
with Hal -- respect a researcher's need to be able to discuss preliminary
findings within a professional community without having to worry that they
will be misunderstood, or that the findings will have to stand up to
public scrutiny before they are ready to present.
In January or February, we will once again evaluate the NLA list, and
I will ask for your opinions on what the NLA list policy should be in this
area. If you wish to make suggestions now, send them to the NLA list or
to me at <DJRosen at world.std.com>.
I also want to say that I think this is a fascinating discussion, raising
issues critical to our field, and to our democracy, especially in this age
of new communication technologies. I urge others who have opinions on
this issue and on other adult literacy public policy issues, to let your
voice be heard here. I am reminded of what a student -- a recent immigrant
-- said upon returning from the Massachusetts State House where he and
other students had for the first time talked openly and frankly with their
state senator: "You know, in my country, they would have shot me for doing
what we did." A pointed reminder of why we must not to be afraid to
exercise our constitutional democratic right to speak out, even if
sometimes it gets us in a little hot water.
David J. Rosen
NLA List Moderator
<DJRosen at world.std.com>
On Tue, 30 Sep 1997, Nancy Boraks wrote:
> One way to control this and not to give up the opportunity to
> discuss is to (perhaps) tag all messages not to be cited
> without permission of the author. Also I think if you see this
> intrusion -- as I do as a violation of professional courtesy /standards
> -- with no overriding good apparent -- you should share the name of the
> 'reporter', the paper represented and the owners on the paper.
> Nancy Boraks
> <nboraks at atlas.vcu.edu>
> > To: nla at world.std.com
> > Subject: NLA Discussion: Public Forum
> > From: Hal Beder <hbeder at rci.rutgers.edu>
> > Date: Tue, 30 Sep 1997 15:04:33 -0400
> > I just received a phone call from a reporter from a well-known commerical
> > newsletter focusing on adult literacy education. This reporter had picked
> > up on a message I posted on NLA several weeks ago. In my message, I
> > discussed some preliminary findings on the Outcomes/Impact project we are
> > conducting at Rutgers. The reporter wished to make my posting the basis for
> > a story. I explained that my message pertained to work in progress and that
> > the final report had not been written. Thus I did not wish to be quoted.
> > He said that the internet was "public domain" and he could quote my message
> > if he wished. I asked for a change in the wording of the message and he
> > would not agree. I suspect he is legally correct. This raises an important
> > issue for a policy listserv where people freely express their opinions. If
> > it is true that in posting a message we are "going public", how can we
> > express ourselves from the heart? How can public officials participate if
> > they know they are automatically "on record?" In any case, members on the
> > list should know the situation.
> > Hal Beder
> > Rutgers University
> > Graduate School of Education
> > 10 Seminary Pl.
> > New Brunswick, NJ 08903
> > Phone: (732) 932-7496 ext 213
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