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I don’t get it

I have never understood how people like Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair did it. How they lied and cheated and fabricated stories, people, places that never even existed. I don’t understand. It seems to me it would be a lot more work to make things up and create this alternate world than it would be to grab a freaking notebook and go report a story. But that’s just me.

I don’t understand why anyone would make a story up anyway. If you don’t want to report the news, don’t go into journalism. I’ve never heard of anyone’s parents insisting they grow up to be a reporter. It’s not like a doctor or a lawyer. You’re not likely to be forced into being a journalist. You choose it. And yeah it’s not all rainbows and butterflies; sometimes the stories don’t pan out. Sometimes the quotes aren’t as colorful as you’d like. But, seriously, your job is to report what you find. It’s not to create stories where they don’t exist. That’s why this essay by a former j-school student surprises me (found via Romenesko).

In the essay, she claims to have fabricated a dozen stories while in journalism school. What I don’t get is why. She wanted the praise of her professors. I can understand that. There isn’t a j-school student who doesn’t want to please the professors or a journalist who doesn’t want the editor’s approval. But how could you actually live with yourself, even with a 4.0, if you knew you were living a lie? Aside from worrying about getting caught — which probably deters a lot of would-be cheaters — wouldn’t you just feel like a failure. No matter much praise is lavished on you, wouldn’t you feel like you were degrading the very profession you seek to join? :shrug: Maybe that’s just me. But seriously, rather than gloat in an essay, this girl might want to seek some psychiatric help. And that j-school might want to reevaluate it’s procedures.

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