Do you remember Biotech University? It’s that scam of a reporting contest/biotechnology conference we alerted you to a couple months ago that was basically propaganda for biotechnology companies like Monsanto.
Well, here’s a fun update. Even though the administrators of Biotech University claimed it was a legitimate and balanced event, the Missouri School of Journalism feels differently. Based on complaints from J-School students and faculty, you will not be required to attend the Biotech University
brainwashing weekend seminar to participate in the reporting contest next year.
We first learned about these changes to Biotech University in an email that Columbia Missourian Editor Tom Warhover sent to the Print & Digital News faculty and that was forwarded to us by a tipster who asked to remain anonymous.
Several faculty members expressed concern to the J-School’s Executive Committee about the relationship between Biotech University and the journalism school. According to our tipster, “It seemed that the discussion was independent of your critique at JSB…but the concerns were similar.”
The faculty’s main concern was the same as ours, which is that the weekend conference was required for anyone who wanted to enter the reporting contest. You don’t even need to be a Mizzou student to enter the contest next year.
Warhover told us in a follow-up email that, “We want students to win scholarships if they can. College ain’t free, or cheap. Requiring attendance at one to win the other was where the ethical questions really centered.”
As we pointed out last time, we were alarmed at the one-sided nature of Biotech University. While biotechnology is a controversial topic that has quite a few detractors, the conference presented only the positives about biotechnology and ignored the negatives. The conference’s organizers have promised to make the event more balanced by presenting more opposing viewpoints about biotechnology.
We will be around in the fall to see if Biotech University actually keeps that promise. Consider this one a victory for journalism that isn’t just PR masquerading as such.