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Don't be surprised if you turn on the evening news and your Political Science professor is on talking about the Persian Gulf war. Several University professors have had a high profile in the national media in recent weeks, serving as special analysts in several network's coverage of the Gulf war. But the media attention has been a mixed blessing. Although faculty have had a chance to express their views to a large audience and to boost the prestige of the University, constant interview requests have started to become a drain. Some professors said the attention has become so great it is detracting from their teaching and research. Since the outbreak of the war, local and national media, starved for information on all aspects of the developing conflict, have agressively pursued many University professors to obtain answers to a wide array of questions. For example, as news broke Friday of a possible Iraqi offer to withdraw from Kuwait, at least a dozen television stations, radio stations, and newspapers across the country interrogated Political Science Professor Adam Garfinkle on the implications of the move. And only a day before, Garfinkle's views were broadcast to millions in an interview for Voice of America radio. Garfinkle serves as the Political Science Coordinator for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a campus-based think tank studying foreign policy issues that has become a center of media attention since the August invasion of Kuwait. He is also teaching a class for the Political Science department on Middle East politics. But Garfinkle was hardly the only faculty member receiving air time recently. On Monday of last week, it appeared as if Annenberg Dean Kathleen Jamieson was pulling an all-nighter when she appeared on CBS News "Nightwatch" at 4 a.m. -- giving new meaning to the phrase "exhaustive coverage." Jamieson has actively publicized a conference held at the Annenberg School early this month on the effects of media coverage of war violence on children. The "Nightwatch" show, actually prerecorded in Washington, D.C., was only one of several recent news appearances for the communications professor. "What I was trying to do was make sure the issues at this conference got out to as many [media representatives] as possible," Jamieson said yesterday. She added that she has been attempting to persuade television networks, including CBS and CNN, to be more sensitive to the needs of parents and children by displaying warnings before broadcasting explicit war footage, a goal developed at the conference. The dean said CBS acted on her recommendations last week by presenting warnings before coverage of the bombing deaths at an underground Iraqi shelter, and added that the producer for Peter Jennings' special news programs for children agreed to consult with her before the next show. But Jamieson said heavy media attention is not without its disadvantages, because it diverts attention from the day-to-day business of the school. "We have obligations to our students, our staff, and our colleagues that have to come before our media coverage," Jamieson said. Garfinkle has reached the same conclusion. "The more hours we spend talking to reporters, the fewer hours we have to do what we're paid for," Garfinkle said. Recently, however, Garfinkle said the Foreign Policy Research Institute struck a deal with ABC's local affiliate, WPVI Channel 6, so that professors are paid a small sum for serving as on-air consultants to the station's "Action News" programs. These consulting payments are the first in FPRI's history. "It's a real breakout," Garfinkle added. "We're thinking about cultivating this." Despite potential gains in recognition, or even in funding, there may be a down side to the increased publicity. Garfinkle said journalists have tracked him down both at work and at home, on both weekdays and weekends. Garfinkle, who is Jewish, said he considers himself lucky he is forced to take a break from the press calls during the Sabbath. Assistant Political Science Professor William Harris argues that faculty prominence may also have unforseen costs for students as well. Harris said he fears broadcasting faculty opinions in the media and in classes may undermine students' feelings about the significance and importance of their own views, particularly if those views differ. "The idea is that University professors are pretty privileged and pretty powerful people in the world," Harris said. "They have to be really careful about how they use that power." Harris also suggested that the media -- by simplifying issues as only two-sided and relying on short quotes and "clever turns of phrase" -- works against accurate representation of the views of faculty who have learned to value subtlety and balance. "Newspapers will tend to pick up the clever comments, the sound bites, the slogans," said Harris, who worked as a reporter for several years. "It's very difficult to portray a broad perspective in a news story." Some faculty members, however, are in demand simply for their factual knowledge as opposed to their political opinions and analysis. Pharmacology Professor Emeritus George Koelle, who said he has been following the development of chemical weapons since World War II, has been interviewed recently by The Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Daily News, as well as local television and radio stations. Koelle said along with talking about the qualities and dangers of chemical weapons, he has acted on his knowledge of their past use to prevent their use in the future. He said the use of chemical weapons in World War II by the Axis powers may have been prevented by rumors of U.S. retaliation. Koelle wrote to government officials recommending that the U.S. use similar measures to prevent use of chemical weapons in this conflict. "I am very much concerned that it not be used because it would be a terrible thing in the desert," Koelle said. "That's why I wrote to President Bush, [Secretary of Defense Richard] Cheney, and [Joint Chiefs Chairperson Colin] Powell and several congressmen, and finally I got it to Cheney and he acknowledged it."

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