New York Times Reads Professors’ E-Mail

The New York Times obtained “hundreds of emails and other documents” about public university professors in Texas and Illinois through Freedom of Information requests.

[Kocieniewski, David. “Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward.” New York Times, December 27, 2013. h/t Rebecca Tushnet]

As the Times explains,

interviews with dozens of academics and traders, and a review of hundreds of emails and other documents involving two highly visible professors in the commodities field — [Craig Pirrong of the University of Houston] and Professor Scott H. Irwin at the University of Illinois — show how major players on Wall Street and elsewhere have been aggressive in underwriting and promoting academic work . . .

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, at times blur the line between research and public relations.

The exchange’s public relations staff has helped Mr. Irwin shop his pro-speculation essays to newspaper op-ed pages, according to emails reviewed by The Times.

I think I’m OK with allowing journalists to trace financial support to professors, but I’m queasy about the release of e-mail that merely dispenses advice on publication.