This week in my magazine writing class, we've been assigned two articles about journalistic fraudsters - people who have made up quotes, sources and stories and gotten away with it for long periods of time.
One was by a former Carleton journalism undergrad who got top grades by faking her assignments. The other was about Stephen Glass, who was the American magazine world's "it" writer until his spectacular web of lies unraveled.
They both seem to have been motivated by stress, perfectionism and fear of failure rather than laziness. I bet this happens way more than people think, especially in class assignments that don't actually get published and the source never sees. I think this says a lot about the absolutely insane pressures of j-school, the middle class cult of high achievement, and journalism in general. Not that that makes it right. It just explains it.
Anyway, in the article "Shattered Glass," the writer describes Stephen Glass getting kicked out of the office:
"Lane ordered Glass to leave his office. Glass pleaded to be allowed to take his Rolodex and some files from the hard drive of his computer, but Lane refused to let him. Instead, the only thing that Stephen Glass carried out of The New Republic — after Lane had searched his pockets — was a blue blazer."
He took his blazer and got out.
Not exactly a moment in journalism history I want to be associated with.
Hopefully no one would think this is some sort of obscure reference, like a serial killer leaving clues for the police.
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