While journalists are expected to follow a certain set of standards or code of ethics, that's not always the case. Every now and again, someone breaks the rules and gets away with it -- if only temporarily, since they usually get caught in the end. One famous example is former U.S. journalist Stephen Glass, who had fabricated many articles while he was working for the magazine The New Republic
in the 1990s. (Apparently, he's now fighting for the right to practice law
in California, after he was denied a license in 2007 on moral grounds.) Here are a few more examples of bad journalism.
- Jonah Lehrer, who had blogged for Wired for several years and was recently hired (and then fired) by The New Yorker, reportedly fabricated quotes and recycled or outright plagiarized parts of articles. While Wired had initially agreed to keep Lehrer on as a features writer, after carefully examining a number of his posts, the magazine just recently decided to end its relationship with him due to his failure to "meet WIRED editorial standards" or to "follow basic good journalism practices." [url]
- Ryan Holiday, marketing director at American Apparel, calls himself a "media manipulator." He wrote a book called "Trust Me, I'm Lying" on how to exploit the media by lying. Even worse, he used Help a Reporter Out (HARO) and pretended to be an expert on pretty much everything -- by lying, of course -- and managed to fool reporters from MSNBC, ABC News, CBS, The New York Times, and more. He claims it was all part of an experiment. [url]
- Margaret Wente has been accused of plagiarism -- copying the words of another Canadian columnist for her own article in 2009 about genetically modified foods in Africa. She has responded to the allegations, but her employers have also disciplined her (without revealing the details of her punishment and obviously not firing her). [url]
- Poynter.org has a wrap-up of the year's journalistic failings (so far) -- which it calls Journalism's Summer of Sin -- and it prescribes some measures for news organizations to prevent (and deal with) plagiarism and fabrication. The year isn't over, though, so place your bets on how many more journalistic fumbles will occur before 2013. [url]
If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post