Why our UNH coverage may seem one-sided

In July, we ran a story about John Collins, chair of the University of New Hampshire biochemistry department who had been arrested for disorderly conduct. His accuser -- Stacia Sower, dean of research -- subsequently filed for a restraining order against Collins, after he had been banned from campus by the university. You can read more of the details on the incident linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53383/ . Last month, I linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog

Andrea Gawrylewski
Nov 13, 2007
In July, we ran a story about John Collins, chair of the University of New Hampshire biochemistry department who had been arrested for disorderly conduct. His accuser -- Stacia Sower, dean of research -- subsequently filed for a restraining order against Collins, after he had been banned from campus by the university. You can read more of the details on the incident linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53383/ . Last month, I linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53782/ that a judge cleared Collins on both criminal charges, and last week, a judge declined to grant a permanent restraining order against him. Collins told me he is extremely pleased. Reporting this story has been frustrating. While I was working on our first story on the subject, I called and emailed Sower for comment. She didn't respond. But after my first story ran, I got a voicemail from Sower saying that the article was almost all wrong and that she was disappointed...
uct. His accuser -- Stacia Sower, dean of research -- subsequently filed for a restraining order against Collins, after he had been banned from campus by the university. You can read more of the details on the incident linkurl:here;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53383/ . Last month, I linkurl:reported;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53782/ that a judge cleared Collins on both criminal charges, and last week, a judge declined to grant a permanent restraining order against him. Collins told me he is extremely pleased. Reporting this story has been frustrating. While I was working on our first story on the subject, I called and emailed Sower for comment. She didn't respond. But after my first story ran, I got a voicemail from Sower saying that the article was almost all wrong and that she was disappointed in the coverage. I called her back, and she told me, "I'm not going to comment," and that I should contact the university press office. That was the beginning of a trend: When I've gone to contact a supporter of Collins', they have been willing to comment on the incident and attest to Collins' character. But I haven't had equal luck getting comment from Sower's side, which is why you've only been reading what Collins has to say about the controversy. When I linkurl:blogged;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/53575/ in September that the University had made Collins an offer to return to his job with certain conditions, an anonymous poster accused the blog of being "gossip ridden" and that my information did not come from the primary source. My editor and I both contacted this poster and asked if they knew the real story, and if they would like to correct the record. The response was only that the poster didn't want to speak on the record. In a linkurl:news story;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53581/ following up to that blog, another anonymous poster wrote about Sower: "The department should thank their lucky stars they have a faculty member of such caliber -- a professional, world-renowned faculty member who cares deeply about her students, their careers and her research." Alas, when I tried to contact this person my email bounced back. I've contacted Sower numerous times to try to get her side of the story, but other than my one phone conversation with her, I've never heard back. Even a couple of Sower's lab personnel have told me they would like to tell their mentor's side of the story but can't -- they won't say why. Frustratingly enough, but less surprising, the university press people only gave me one comment for my first news story. Since then they have not responded to other requests for comment. Telling a complete story is dependent on getting people to open up on the record, which of course is not going to happen all the time. But I'll continue covering this story and welcome every opportunity to add to, or correct, the record.

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