“let Stephen Glass back into journalism”

This might be satire. Might not. I honestly cannot tell. From the Columbia Journalism Review:

Stephen Glass, the wunderkind journalist who was discovered to have fabricated dozens of New Republic articles in 1998, is in trouble. This time, it’s his law career that has come to a screeching halt: The California Supreme Court blocked the writer-turned-paralegal from practicing law in the state late last month.

But you don’t need to pass a state bar or obtain a license to work in journalism. Before he chases Jayson Blair down the motivational speaking rabbit hole, let’s welcome Stephen Glass back into the fold. Seriously.

But CJR writer Zach Schonfeld can’t seriously be serious. Can he?

The simple fact is that Glass can’t possibly mess up journalism more than we have already in the years since his downfall.

Consider the transformations that have struck media since 1998. Inaccuracies have always plagued journalism to some extent, well before Glass came to prominence, but as Esquire’s Luke O’Neil pointed out recently, “What is new is that we’re barely even apologizing for increasingly considering the truth optional.” Our profession, in other words, has been complicit in creating a culture that values speed and eyeballs over accuracy. Think about it: In recent months, we’ve mistakenly passed off “epic” viral hoaxes as truth, farfetched satire as reliable reporting, and heartwarming photo cons as news — and that’s just the tip of the Highly Shareable iceberg. At least Stephen Glass knew when he was feeding you lies.

This has got to be some sort of attempt at critiquing the current state of mainstream journalism. Hasn’t it?

But after a 16-year banishment, there’s room for Glass yet. In 2014, dozens upon dozens of journalism jobs entail little, if any, traditional reporting skills. Glass’ vivid (if overeager) imagination should make him a desirable candidate in an online setting where sites will do anything to stand out from the dozens of others posting the same story within the hour. Be honest: Wouldn’t you like to see the sort of listicles BuzzFeed staffer Stephen Glass might serve up? Couldn’t his sense of drama make for some really weird, fun Girls recaps?

No! It appalls me to even think of rewarded Glass for his crimes against journalism. He should get a juicy job over someone honest?

Has to be a joke. Has to be.


share and enjoy
notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
view all comments
Mon, Feb 10, 2014 9:08pm

Nope. I’ll bet that despite this assumption of “forever, on the internet”, most people really don’t pay enough attention and that, yes, he could return and lots of people might even applaud.

Tue, Feb 11, 2014 11:31am

It’s not as if journalism had any self- or public respect left to lose.