It breaks a journalist’s heart to read about plagiarism, fabricating sources and stories and being generally unethical in the industry — regardless of how far back into your journalistic history those events fall. That’s why I could barely even generate a response other than, “WHAT?!” to a recent column on the Monroe News, where a reporter confessed to creating scenarios for stories, doing interviews for game stories BEFORE the game occurred with “we won” quotes and “we lost” quotes. Not to mention creating direct quotes from memory.
First of all, I can’t even imagine how someone could allow themselves to do any of those things, let alone write a column about it. I can’t think of a single thing a person could gain from exposing the unethical behavior of their past. There is nothing good that can come from his column, as far as I’m concerned.
You would think that most journalists have enough common sense not to do that kind of stuff. But then again, here’s an established journalist writing about his ethical blunders. Not to mention Stephen Glass or Jayson Blair.
This reporter has pretty much ruined any credibility he had and now sources, editors and future employers have a very real right to worry about the accuracy of his stories. I know I would.
Since the headline is “Journalists: Don’t do this,” maybe he wasn’t just talking about the complete and utter disregard he had for ethics. Maybe he was talking about writing the column too.
But, things like this are just one of the depressing and discouraging thing about this industry I’ve grown to love. From the moment we start out as cub reporters, we have the concepts of ethics and morals ground into our brains. But somewhere along the way, for some people at least, it seems to disappear. And that’s a damn shame.