Truth and Modern Journalism
Oct 2012 19

High-profile journalists have recently been accused of plagiarism on both sides of the border. This is a curation of  how a dictionary defines Journalism, a concise list of Journalistic crimes compiled by ‘The Globe and Mail’, and TVO’s ‘The Agenda’  examining how the online world is changing journalism.

Merriam-Webster’s defines journalism as involving “writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation.”

In other words, the truth, the whole truth, and nothing else.

The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics Preamble states:

“….public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility.”


Janet Cooke: Spectacular cautionary tale of a promising young reporter who wrote an A1 story in Sept. 1980 for The Washington Post about an eight-year-old heroin addict. Two days after Cooke won a Pulitzer Prize, The Post admitted the story was false. She resigned, and left journalism for good.

Stephen Glass: Another superstar whose rise was built on fabrications. Made up elements of at least 27 articles written for The New Republic and three for George magazine. Left journalism for good, but wrote the 2003 novel The Fabulist, loosely based on his own life story. It sold poorly.

Jayson Blair: A once-promising young reporter who was found in the spring of 2003 to have fabricated dozens of elements in a series of stories for The New York Times, including the placelines on those stories. (He filed stories from Cleveland, Fairfax, Va., and Washington without ever actually leaving New York.) The Times called it “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper,” which led to the exit of the paper’s top two editors.

Jack Kelley: A star USA Today reporter, he was found to have fabricated or plagiarized for as many as 20 articles over the course of a decade. Left journalism in 2004.

Jonah Lehrer: Self-plagiarism and fabulism. In June, Lehrer copped to “self-plagiarism,” for the offense of journalistic recycling. Five blog posts he wrote for The New Yorker, where he was a staff writer, featured reworked anecdotes he’d already used in pieces written for The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, the Boston Globe, and Wired. Though The New Yorker forgave him his trespasses, he resigned from the magazine at the end of July after admitting he’d also made up quotes he’d attributed to Bob Dylan in his bestseller Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Michael Finkel: Created a composite character for a 2001 New York Times magazine cover story. Fired by the Times, he continues to do impressive work for National Geographic and others.

via SIMON HOUPT | The Globe and Mail

Published on: October 01, 2012 | Length: 53:55 |  The Agenda with Steve Paikin

Daily current affairs show offering in-depth analysis and intelligent debate on issues of concern in the rapidly changing world around us.

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