By May “Mosaic” Advincula, Staff Writer
With the new year often comes the perception of starting over, and that is something that former New Republic reporter, Stephen Glass, had to learn the hard way.
Glass’ story can teach us much about the importance of value and holding ourselves to high standards. When we become Delta Phi Lambda sisters, we become bound to the seven virtues that our founding mothers established, and it becomes our responsibility to uphold those virtues in every endeavor we undertake. Like anything we value or find of importance, we should never resort to compromising our values for personal interests and gain. In the end, self-serving does nothing but hurt the best interests of the whole, and in the case of Glass, caused a demise in his career and his character. In the three-year time frame that Glass was employed by TNR, he was able to tarnish his reputation for the rest of his entire life by disregarding values of his company and the journalism industry as a whole.
Well-known in the journalism industry for his blatantly misconstrued articles depicting false situations, Glass damaged his career and seemingly added to jeopardizing confidence in journalism.
The essentials of good journalism provides balanced arguments which allows for the audience to deduce their own conclusion from the information presented, and the industry as a whole faces unyielding pressure to provide unbiased pieces that stay true to fact and stray from partiality. However, Glass took advantage of that placed trust and violated these essential values to serve his personal interests and advance his career.
Glass began his career at political American magazine TNR in 1995 as an editorial assistant and started early in his profession by writing features. He began receiving backlash in 1996 regarding his article titled “Hazardous to Your Mental Health” in which the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who had been the focus of the article, released a public statement that pointed out inaccuracies and accused Glass of plagiarism.
A slew of additional accusations of inaccuracies and falsehoods followed for additional articles written by Glass. However, at the time, the publication stood behind its writer and defended him against those who were claiming his articles were false.
It was not until 1998 that Glass was publicly exposed for his fraudulent stories. His “Hack Heaven” feature depicted the story of a 15-year-old hired as an information security consultant for a company called Jukt Micronics. Adam Peneberg, a reporter with Forbes, investigated the article to verify the information to determine how TNR had gotten the scoop prior to Forbes. It was then that Peneberg discovered that the company and people that Glass included in his article never existed. When initially confronted, Glass claimed to have been tricked and had gone as far to have his brother pose as a Jukt Micronics executive named Sims. Additionally, Glass had gone to great lengths to disguise his deceit with TNR fact checkers by creating a website, voice mail account, story notes and fake business cards for the made-up company.
Once it was discovered that Glass had fabricated the entire story, former editor Charles Lane fired Glass. In the end TNR determined that approximately 66 percent (27 out of 41) stories contained fabricated material. Although there were some articles that contained both fact and fiction, the “Hack Heaven” feature was completely made up.
His journalism career obliterated by his distrust, Glass then pursued a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He applied for the New York bar and was denied due to failure to certify him on the moral fitness test. He then applied to the California bar and again was denied certification due to questioning of his moral standards.
As a result of disregard for these values, Glass will never be able to escape his reputation and will be discredited in the minds of his colleagues. Compromising what you, your employer, family, friends and colleagues value can inevitably lead to a question of your character as well as serves a reflection on the group of people who are connected to you.
As we embark on a new year, it is important that we stay true to the values that we are taught and to continue to exemplify those values that are most important to us.