100 articles – ‘Shattered Glass’

18 May 2010

Written by: Lawrie Zion

‘Shattered Glass’ by Buzz Bissinger

There few cases of plagiarism and outright fabrication more remarkable than that of American journalist Stephen Glass. 

By the age of 25, Glass was taking the US media by storm with his fascinating articles for the Washington-based magazine The New Republic.  Just one problem, he made up sources, quotes and even whole stories.

In this 1998 feature for Vanity Fair, Buzz Bissinger tries to understand Glass’ behavior. Going back as early as his high school days, Bissinger discovers Glass had ‘always been good at risky business’.

‘Shattered Glass’, which was made into a film starring Hayden Christensen in 2003,  is an exceptional profile on the motives and workings of a reckless journalist. Bissinger’s article highlights the trust the media often places on journalists, instinctively assuming they will be honest and ethical.  The number of high profile newspapers that were tricked by Glass illustrates that ethics is more often than not a matter of self-regulation. 

Jean Kemshal-Bell is an Honours Journalism student at La Trobe University.