Lies and the lying liars who get book contracts

Lies and the lying liars who get book contracts

: Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, writes that scandals in journalism — in the age of Jayson Blair, Jack Kelly, Stephen Glass, Andrew Gilligan — aren’t getting the coverage they deserve:

There is another scandal-ridden industry these days, come to think of it, but you read far less about it. High-profile cases are covered, but the larger problem is not considered particularly newsworthy.

That industry is our own, the press.

I hate to think how big that “larger problem” could be. But here’s an editor saying it’s there.

When I was a reporter, I was obsessive about reporting facts accurately. I’d stare at my reporters’ notebook trying to decipher my own bad brand of shorthand to sweat out whether the quote said “which” or “that” and if I wasn’t sure, I’d throw out the quote marks. Of course, that was obsession to a fault. I want to shake up the younger me and shout, “Forest! Trees!” But getting facts and quotes right was a canon of the craft and getting something wrong was a harikari moment. The reporters I knew were all like that. So maybe I was naive then and didn’t see the bigger scandal brewing. Or maybe times have changed. Or maybe it’s always true that every barrel has bad apples. Rivard says:

This wave of dishonesty has surfaced in newsrooms across the country, including some of the most prestigious ones. Most editors I have asked believe there are undiscovered cheaters still at work.

Every newspaper industry publication and Web site chronicles one disclosure after another: a food writer in Hartford, a community reporter in Macon