Wednesday, March 15, 2006

As bad as politicians and lawyers


What is wrong with journalists and authors today!?!? It seems every week there is another scandal calling into question the voracity of published work we had all taken for fact. We've had Tuesdays with Morrie author and columnist Mitch Albom playing the part of the stupid criminal when he wrote a column on a basketball game as though he was there; unfortunately for Albom one of the athletes mentioned in his article didn't even play due to an injury. We've got James Frye grandly embellishing his memoir, Million Little Pieces. We've got Stephen Glass, a much-celebrated young writer of the The New Republic magazine fabricating about 85% of the content of the stories he had written for The New Republic, some of which were entirely constructed out of his apparently sexless imagination. Now it seems that Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code has been in court defending claims that he stole the main premises of his book from other authors! Where is their integrity? Where is their honor of their craft?!?

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. For every one author that gets outed, there are many more that go unreported by publishing agencies in a lame-ass attempt to save face. But even those that are reported usually result in a mere slap on the wrist. Poor Mr. Glass, for example, actually suffered some public humiliation before going on to graduate from Georgetown University Law Center and countless public appearances promoting his book, The Fabulist, which chronicled his journalistic fraud. Oh, and then there was the movie deal where Glass was portrayed by adorable and hunky Hayden Christensen. I'm sure poor old Glass cried all the way to the bank. So, answer me this: what is there to deter these dopes when committing an act of public betrayal only results in minor but temporary humiliation followed by book and movie deals?!?!

As a journalist I deeply resent this. Their dishonesty calls into question every word that is printed. I read a statistic yesterday that a whopping 3% of Americans think that politicians have integrity and honor their responsibility to the public as they carry out their duty thanks to the endless scandals riding the coattails of political life. Thanks to all the stinking bad journalists and authors out there (not to mention the bad tabloid reporting), journalists are going to get lumped in with lawyers and politicians before we know it. As someone who takes what I write for publication very seriously, I'd like to say this to all of them there bad boyz:

"Kiss my grits!!!"


Bonnie Blithe said...

"infotainment" versus "news", alas.

shortensweet said...

gotta love freedom of speech

V J.D. said...

Well, as a soon to be lawyer I have to say that although there are a lot of asshole attorneys, general opinion of lawyers is based on only a few interactions with lawyers. Just like authors, a few bad apples can ruin the bunch.

Second, as a soon to be lawyer, freedom of speech has little to do with this phenomenon of irresponsible reporting. "Freedom of Speech" as protected by the First Amendment only protects speech from government suppression. The government can regulate speech that is misleading or that misrepresents (consumer protection). But I think we would be better off letting public opinion, and not government, regulate authors and journalists.

shortensweet said..., Bunny, how's um..ya know..that one guy doing?

Im so angry, Im so at ease said...

You should see a documentary called; "orwell rolls in his grave". It's a grand documentary about the media industry today. If you cant find it, I'll ftp or mail it to you, it's really astonoshing...

Mom said...

Orwell is one of my all-time favorite authors. His book "1984" gives a fascinating look at what could happen if government controlled the media. He also wrote a treatise on the relationship between language and thought that should be required reading for every writer. He was also a prophet. In subtle and not so subtle ways, we are losing our freedom of speech. Our country is slowly moving towards a Babel-like society. The lack of ethics in in journalism is one facet of a many-faceted problem.

bunnyjo georg said...

vjd: With the current administration's infatuation with idealism over realism, we'd drift toward the Orwellian nightmare allowing them to "mediate" the media. Yikes. Public opinion, however, is comprised primarily of the same kind of dopes who spend $69.99 to watch Nascar on Pay-per-view, not exactly the kinds of people I'd trust with determining what is appropriate for MY family. Fuck an A, man.

Shorty: The drugs are making him loopy and with that comes a certain...well, let's just say he's enjoying my company. Wish that damn shoulder would hurry up and heal! :)

ISA: Ooo, I'm going to check that out on NetFlix like today. Thanks for the recommend - right up my alley!

Mom: I don't know if we are losing our freedom of speech as much as we are losing our freedom period. With the increased regulations on everything to supposedly protect us from the bad guys - whether it is the drug dealer from the inner city or a terrorist bad guy from the Middle East - we are drifting toward a police state. Now, before you all jump on me here, yes, I do know we are far from a police state. But I do think that with legislation like the freaking Patriot Act,we are definitely drifting! N'est ce pas!?!?

Chill Daddy said...

I'm not touching that.

I'd like to comment on Dan Brown. I haven't heard too much about his court case, but as I understand it, he's being sued by the author's of one of the books he lists as a reference. He has a bibliography! -in a fictional book! Tell me those guys didn't already make a mint from people who were intrigued by Brown's ideas and bought their book to learn more.

I wish I could remember the name of the book, but the important thing is... I remember how to debunk the Gospel of Mary Magdelene which is where they got their ideas.

V J.D. said...

I think we used to be able to trust the news (papers, tv, magazines) to cross referance and fact check. Right? Did they always just want to sell sell sell. I call it Walmart News - cheap to produce, easy to sell. Yeah bunnyjo, we're pretty much screwed.

bunnyjo georg said...

Here's the journalistic requirment for stating a fact: it needs to be confirmed by two independant sources. Ok, so newspapers can print anything as long as they've got two people willing to swear it is true. Now, books, however, can print anything as fact as long as it was first printed in a newspaper. Newspapers are our #1 source of "factual information" in America. Screwed? Oh, dude, we are like screwed, blued AND tattooed!

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'll tell you something you won't buhleeeeave, Bunnyjo.

I once wrote something...then one day, read something similar in another book.

And I swear, I did not read that other book first.

It was not even a 'typical' concept...yet there it was, in a book published in China then translated into English.

I changed what I wrote immediately!!!

I read another writer saying that stuff like this happens a lot. It is so weird.

Ancient Clown said...

I summed it up best as I could with "The Flutterby Campaign".

But don't trust anything I've said...test it all for yourself.

your humble servant,
Ancient Clown

bunnyjo georg said...

AC: A very good allegory for the good vs. evil eventualities resulting from publishing incorrect or misleading information. Taking your story one step further, perhaps it was the intention of the scribe to misrepresent the flutterby in an attempt to prejudice future generations....ineresting possibilities for conspiracy theories, n'est ce pas?