Charles Lane & Ethics in Journalism

Newspapers and articles for years have contained articles that have appealed to readers because of they’re far-fetched stories and entertaining plots. In the film, “Shattered Glass“, Stephen Glass is exposed for the 27 of the 41 pieces that he wrote for the New Republic.

Charles Lane , now an editorial writer for The Washington Post, served as editor for the New Republic during the time that Glass was fired for his fabrications. I believe Lane to have been the most ethical person in the film due to the fact that he put his journalistic morals before falling prey to Glass’s convincing lies and innocent attitude.

Michael Kelly, who served as editor prior to Chuck Lane, was more beloved by his staff which made the office a more relaxed place, where sometimes things could get by without a second glance. When he was fired for his support of his staff, Lane took over and was despised by Michael Kelly’s more favored colleagues.

When the article, “Hack Heaven”, was published in 1998 by Glass, there was never any questioning of it until it was brought to Lane’s attention by an online magazine. Until then, many of the pieces that Stephen Glass published in the “magazine of Air Force One” were partially or entirely fabricated. Charles Lane went with the accusations and dug deeper relentlessly until the truth was exposed.

Chuck tirelessly tried to contact Glass’s sources looking for any piece of truth whatsoever, and came up empty-handed due to the fact that nothing Glass ever said in his story was real. For this, Lane was looked at as being the villain of the office who didn’t trust his employees, especially someone as young and nice as Stephen Glass. Lane put his ethics first for the sake of the magazine.

If any other editor was in the same scenario as Lane was, it would always be best to keep on fact-checking until they are certain that the story is credible and that there aren’t any loose ends. Editors should trust their employees but also be ethical about what is being published and that the readers aren’t being lied to. In the end of the movie, the secretary tell Lane a simple solution to solve the problem of a fabricated story: photos. Using print media does help reduce the chances of a story being fabricated because it has evidence of the sources and the story being told.


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