Don’t Lie to the Public

Kristy Vang, Reporter

When journalists release articles to the public, they hold a responsibility to only publish credible articles. However, many journalists tend to have the courage to present articles to the public with the lack of credibility. Most of the articles they published were either partially or fully falsified.

Stephan Glass, a former journalist for the New Republic, faked more than half of the articles he wrote. Glass published many interesting articles, such as “Hack Heaven.” His editor and boss, Charles Lane, also known as Chuck, started to become suspicious when Glass constantly said “Did I do something wrong?” and did not have enough sources to support the articles he wrote. He searched and investigated all of Glass’s work and found a few evidence, such as false company names, the people, and the locations. When Lane contacted each and every phone number, it automatically sent him to voice mails. Lane demanded Glass to drive him to the location from the article, “Hack Heaven.” Lane found out that the hacking convention room that happened on Sunday was fabricated for the reason that the convention room in the hotel is closed on Sundays. Supporting his location, Glass also claimed that he ate dinner in the afternoon at the restaurant across the hotel. When Lane gathered all the facts, Glass suddenly confessed that he fabricated the article. Lane was very disappointed and decided to suspend Glass from working at the company. Lane and his lawyer questioned Glass and asked him to fully speak the truth. Glass admitted that 27 of his 47 articles were somewhat or entirely fabricated.

Brian Williams, the NBC News anchor, fabricated his story based on his experience in Iraq. In 2003, Williams went abroad in the United States military helicopter in the course of the invasion in Iraq. He articulated that the helicopter he was on collapsed because of a rocket fire. However, Williams confessed that he was not on the helicopter. Williams admitted, “I don’t know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another.” Because of Williams’s false statements about the incident in Iraq, he is suspended for six months without any salary. Although he lied about the incident in Iraq, he purposely blamed the false statements on the “fog of memory.” Williams publicly apologized for lying about him being on the U.S. helicopter that collapsed by a rocket fire.

Janet Cooke, a former worker of Washington Post, wrote a fabricated article called, “Jimmy’s World.” The article was about a young boy, Jimmy, who became a heroin addict. The article surprised many of the readers. Although it seemed impossible for Jimmy to become a heroin addict with the support from the mother, the article remained factual and realistic then. Cooke even won the Pulitzer Prize for the story of “Jimmy’s World” on April 13, 1981. The Washington Post became more suspicious. They found out that Cooke lied about her college degree from Vassar College and the University of Toledo. When Cooke was caught for her fabrications, she finally admitted that her article of Jimmy was entirely false. Because of her fabrications, she is currently working at a clothing store as a clerk.

Being a journalist is quite important, especially with use of the code of ethics. Their job and responsibility is to gather all the facts and release it to the public, requiring articles to be truthful and accurate. There should be no more liars in the field of journalism, such as the journalists, Glass, Williams, and Cooke. Because of their falsified articles, the citizens left a bad view on journalism. Journalists should continue to follow their code of ethics and only reveal the truth to the public. That’s what makes journalists great writer.