Monday, February 20, 2006

Fiction in the news: the death of journalists

In regards to the Stephen Glass issue, I have been thinking about it all week and the only thing I can come up with is "Gosh! I'm embarrassed!" Above all things journalists have been known to let slide a little, I am most hurt that truth and accuracy are among them. This wasn't simply an error in judgment or a misprint. The reporter wasn't conned or tricked. He simply decided the truth was something he could fudge on here and there, which eventually turned into something he could create all on his own.

They were great stories. He was one heck of a fiction writer and if he would have started out that way, I think he could have done really well for himself. But as writers, they only thing that keeps us in business is our credibility. Once you lose that, you better have nothing else to say because no one is going to listen to you.

I consider myself to be a fairly mellow person. I am not easily angered. But I have been captured by a straightforward desire to slap Glass, and others like him, across the back of the head and scream "You idiot! Do you know what you've done?" As an up and coming journalist, my job has just become twice as hard, if I can even get one. Think of how much more cautious editors will be of young reporters. Think of how much harder kids like me will have to work just to get our foot in the door. And once we get there, our learning curve has disintegrated. Perfection now. News can afford no mistakes. Then we will be the ones circling our excess comas--writing our notes in our own blood. That is the result of fiction is the news. Yes, it hurts the public, but it kills the journalists.

1 comment:

Nancy Williams said...

I see you're off that fence now, Fence Sitter! Good post.