The Epic Columbia J-School Listserve Fail

Screen shot 2014-01-10 at 4.08.07 PMThree years ago, Bridgestone Tires reminded us in a Super Bowl commercial how the reply-all email option can lead to catastrophe.

But for hundreds of editors around the country on Friday, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism took it to a new level of vexation.

At 2:02 p.m., the college emailed a listserve of editors inviting them to register for the school’s career expo, where publications pay $125 for a booth to recruit young talent ahead of graduation.

Over the next hour, chaos ensued.

Thanks to a glitch in the Columbia email program, every response requesting removal from the list sent to the initial email was forwarded to everyone on the listserve. Phones throbbed with the buzzing of droves of “please remove me” emails.

Crista Leigh of the Albany Broadcasting Company wasn’t the first to ask, in the subject line, to “PLEASE STOP RESPONDING TO THIS EMAIL.”

“Clearly, we are all on a listserv for the Columbia School of Journalism career expo. There is some sort of problem with their listserv,” she wrote to the group, half an hour into the mayhem. “Every time you hit REPLY, your email goes to EVERYONE on the listserv. Please STOP REPLYING and this will get worked out on their end.”

Hers wasn’t the only plea.

Lucy Kaylin, the editor-in-chief of the Oprah Magazine, said: “Please take me off of this—I am getting endless emails and this must stop!!!!!!”

Michael Lemonick of Climate Central said: “Does nobody understand that replying to this address replies to EVERYBODY ON THE STUPID LIST. EVERY TIME????”

In all, dozens of editors replied, eventually prompting the school to respond with an apology.

“We sincerely apologize for the e-mail snafu earlier today that resulted in flooding your inbox,” Izabela Rutkowski, a program coordinator at the j-school’s career services branch, wrote in an email more than two hours after the brouhaha began. “The listserve settings have now been fixed. It will not happen again.”
Try getting cash-strapped editors to shill for your career day now, Columbia.