Bell director: No outside interference on Troubled Waters

Here are the main points in the following statement by Susan Weller, director of the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History.
She’s commenting on the flap behind the mysterious pulling of the environmental documentary “Troubled Waters”:

  • No outside interests, as erroneously reported by some news sources, have been involved in this internal decision-making process.
  • Our standard procedure at the Bell Museum is that our exhibits and educational products have at least one researcher who oversees the project’s scientific integrity from inception to completion. Unfortunately, this procedure was not followed by the Bell Media unit for production of the documentary.
  • Recently, this documentary was previewed by a number of University officials and faculty. In hindsight, this review should have occurred much earlier. As a result of input received from these viewers, I have postponed the premiere of the film at the Bell Museum.
Weller’s full statement is below:

From:University of Minnesota News Service [mailto:unews@umn.edu]

Sent: Friday, September 17, 2010 3:28 PM

Subject: Press Release: University of Minnesota Statement regarding postponement of the “Troubled Waters” documentary

Contacts: Daniel Wolter, University News Service, unews@umn.edu, (612) 624-5551

University of Minnesota Statement regarding postponement of the “Troubled Waters” documentary

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/17/2010) —The following is a statement from Dr. Susan Weller, director of the University of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural History that was sent to members of the Bell Museum community today:

“In 2008, the University of Minnesota (Bell Museum of Natural History) received a legislative appropriation, and subsequent additional private funding, to develop an educational documentary on the waters of Minnesota, designed to promote watershed understanding and citizen action in protecting, restoring and conserving water resources.

“Our standard procedure at the Bell Museum is that our exhibits and educational products have at least one researcher who oversees the project’s scientific integrity from inception to completion. Unfortunately, this procedure was not followed by the Bell Media unit for production of the documentary, ‘Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story.’ As Director of the Bell Museum, I am responsible for ensuring these standards are followed, and I regret our error in this case.

“Recently, this documentary was previewed by a number of University officials and faculty. In hindsight, this review should have occurred much earlier. As a result of input received from these viewers, I have postponed the premiere of the film at the Bell Museum. I have requested a small group of qualified faculty review the film. These faculty will advise me on whether the documentary as edited meets the specifications of the legislative appropriation to the University, and is scientifically accurate, objective and balanced in its presentation.

“The overall purpose of the review is to assure that the University meets its responsibilities under the legislation to provide the best quality product, one that meets the expectations contained in the legislation and provides high-quality educational material for viewers. No outside interests, as erroneously reported by some news sources, have been involved in this internal decision-making process.

“The Bell Museum of Natural History looks forward to hosting the premiere of the film when this process is concluded. I ask for your understanding and patience as we produce a film that meets our high standards of excellence as a public portal of University research and education on environmental issues.”

Sincerely,

Dr. Susan J. Weller

Director and Professor

  • wbgleason

    Of course this prompts more questions:

    Who exactly reviewed the movie? Faculty and “university officials”? Who stopped the premiere of the movie? The director is a good soldier here. Why was the movie not premiered? What were the reasons for this?

    Driven to Discover? You betcha…