Shattered Glass, Shattered Ethics

“There are 16,800 magazines in this country but only one is called the in-flight magazine of Air Force One. That’s the thrill of working at The New Republic,” says 25-year-old journalist, Stephen Glass.

In 1998, Glass was the youngest writer at Washington’s most prestigious news magazine, The New Republic (TNR). He was the associate editor at TNR and contributing writer for other magazines such as George, Rolling Stone and Harper’s.

The true-life story of Glass is portrayed in the compelling movie, Shattered Glass. Nominated for the Golden Globe award, it is a riveting movie that chronicles the rise and fall of the ace reporter at TNR.

“He’d do anything to get a great story.”

Stories such as the young Republican debauchery at a Washington hotel and the trade fair selling trinkets of the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal make Glass the toast of the publishing world. When Glass is questioned about the source of one of his stories, he goes all out to lie to his mentor and managing editor Michael Kelly. (Kelly is Glass’ strongest supporter.)

“What lengths would you go to get a great story?”

“The Great Comma Debate”

Martin Peretz, TNR owner orders his editors/writers to circle in red, every comma found in the latest issue of the magazine. While Peretz throws his frivolous tantrum about commas, this scene invites us to scrutinize every scene/story like a proofreader with a red pen.

Which story is true? Which scene is fiction? Does anyone actually know?

“He handed us fiction after fiction, and we printed them all as fact. Just because we found him entertaining.”

Forbes’ Digital Tool (online magazine) editor Adam Penenberg and executive editor Kambiz Foroohar raises question on Glass’ article, Hack Heaven. When the new TNR editor, Chuck Lane, confronts Glass, it is a face off between the voice of fiction and voice of truth.

TNR carries out their own internal investigation and discovers that Glass fabricated in part or whole, 27 out of 41 articles he wrote for TNR. Penenberg blows the whistle in his article “Lies, damn lies and fiction.”

All The President’s Men revealed the dark side of journalism and how journalists stood up to leaders and held them accountable for their actions. But Shattered Glass showed that it is the journalist who cannot be trusted.

Who will hold the journalist accountable?

“I lied for esteem,” says Glass in his interview with Correspondent Steve Kroft from 60 minutes.

“I was trying to earn the love and respect of people around me,” says Glass, author of his new book Fabulist, to CNN correspondent Paula Zahn.

Fake name card, fake website, fake sources, fake notes and fake phone messages. The extent that Glass goes to cover his tracks is incredibly baffling.

Who will hold me accountable? I pondered. 

God has called each of us to a higher standard.

“Jesus calls us to His rest, and meekness is His method. The meek man cares not at all who is greater than he, for he has long ago decided that the esteem of the world is not worth the effort.”

― A.W. Tozer, Pursuit of God.

Journalism is a ministry of truth-telling and story-telling. Integrity is its cornerstone.

“LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart.”

Psalm 15:1-2.

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