Stephen Glass goes down
December 5, 2000 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Glass Redux. I don't know what is going on with reporters lately. Did Stephen Glass start a trend?
posted by bkdelong (11 comments total)
If you are a reporter and plan on plagiarizing work, you’d better be well-connected if you want to keep your job. Just ask Mike Barnicle. I think he has a teevee show now.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 12:56 PM on December 5, 2000

Somehow, I doubt that this is a recent trend, but more likely, an ongoing practice by certain reporters. Personally, I wonder where the media ever came up with the idea it was supposed to report only impartial facts. I've long believed that most, if not all, media sources regularly report half-truths and insert their own biases into thier reports.

As my dear old daddy used to tell me, "don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see."
posted by CRS at 12:59 PM on December 5, 2000

Glass's articles were brilliant, and I think the real shame of his case is that he never took the step of presenting them as fiction. By trying to pass them off as real reportage, he completely undermined the very perceptive critiques he was penning.
posted by grimmelm at 1:40 PM on December 5, 2000

The stupid thing is that even if he had admitted that his mother helped sneak him in, that would have been even funnier than just waltzing in.

And the massage part wasn't worth getting screwed over for.
posted by solistrato at 1:52 PM on December 5, 2000

Barnicle has done quite nicely for himself since getting bounced. He still does "commentary" for "Chronicle" (a local Boston TV magazine-type show), he does a talk show on some radio station and, most amazing, a newspaper column (for the New York Daily News).
posted by agaffin at 2:28 PM on December 5, 2000

It was still a great article. I don't mind a little embellishment -- I'd even expect it from the ex-head writer from David Letterman -- but he should have mentioned that some of it was manufactured. Here's a good backgrounder article about the author of the New Yorker piece.
posted by waxpancake at 2:54 PM on December 5, 2000

"Fact checkers? We're The New Yorker. We don' need no steeekin' fact-checkers!"
posted by dhartung at 4:50 PM on December 5, 2000

What's totally bizarre is that the fact checker I spoke with *numerous* times at the New Yorker before the weblog article appeared was so good. I couldn't believe it the stuff he asked me. He asked about almost every single detail that ended up in the article, including whether it was true that Jason had a Princess Mononoke t-shirt! I guess he wasn't involved with this story, unfortunately.
posted by megnut at 5:17 PM on December 5, 2000

I think the fact checking on this article would have worked differently than the megnut/jason one since even after the guy stopped working there he didn't tell anyone there that he was a faker. Even the article didn't identify the company that was involved. I've had the same experiences as megnuts with stuff I've been interviewed for, actually I love the fact checking part of articles, cause you don't usually have to wait till the story comes out to know what's in them, the checkers basically tell you all the details that got in.
posted by beefula at 7:09 PM on December 5, 2000

What's totally bizarre is that the fact checker I spoke with *numerous* times at the New Yorker before the weblog article appeared was so good.

The New Yorker has one of the most bad-ass fact checking departments in the business. Or at least it did as of the late 80s-early 90s, when the department's head lectured to my journalism classes at NYU numerous times. I presume from Megnut's post that it's pretty much still intact. They will go over every minute detail of every article, and anything they can't confirm gets deleted.

But in this case, what could they do? They couldn't call Luminant. They had to take it on faith.

By the way, everyone's favorite obsessive-compulsive serial plagarizer, Ruth Shalit, is up to her old tricks again.
posted by aaron at 9:14 PM on December 5, 2000

What Aaron said. An excellent look at the inside of New Yorker fact-checking can be had in Jay McInerney's Bright Lights Big City. The process was, in those days, legendary in the business.

Most places fact-check along the lines as depicted in Almost Famous: go through and ask everyone in the article, "Did you say this?", maybe check the spelling of things like Kyrghyzstan. The New Yorker, by contrast, was notorious for a draconian your-mother-told-you-are-you-sure-she's-your-mother approach, all while sticking to a style book that apparently requires complex sentences and elimination of pop culture references.

Allegedly, under Tina Brown's much-maligned tenure, there was a notable increase in mistakes -- despite a doubling of staff.

In any case, it's always been true that writers weaned in the outer world of journalism tended to find their first New Yorker fact-checking a cold, wet shock treatment, while writers moving on from that magazine often found things published that they always expected would get fact-checked out of the article before it saw print.
posted by dhartung at 1:08 AM on December 7, 2000

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