For example, check out this week's timeline in The New Republic case. The magazine – which fell prey to a dishonest contributor a decade ago, a story made into the movie "Shattered Glass" – is facing new allegations.
Saturday, July 21: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz reports on allegations being made about The New Republic's "Baghdad Diarist" – an ongoing series (3 so far) of reports filed by a soldier in Iraq. Critics had begun to assail the contributor for potential falsehoods in his reporting
Tuesday, July 24: The New York Times advances the story, featuring a quote from the magazine's editor committing "the full resources of the magazine" into investigating the concerns.
Thursday, July 26: In an online posting, The New Republic repeats its commitment to getting to the bottom of the story, and adds a letter from the contributor – who unmasks himself.
I am Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.All this transpired between a Saturday and the following Thursday.
My pieces were always intended to provide my discreet view of the war; they were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military. I wanted Americans to have one soldier's view of events in Iraq.
Back in 1998, Stephen Glass was fired after Forbes magazine exposed that he had completely fabricated a story for The New Republic. In an internal investigation, the magazine found that 27 of his 41 pieces for the magazine– he began writing for them around Christmas of 1995 – contained fictionalized people and/or events. That's two years of problematic writing.
This writer makes no assessment of the writings of Private Beauchamp, true-to-life or fictitious. After reading reports from the war and having numerous off-the-record conversations, and knowing the strain our troops are under, I don't doubt the conditions in Iraq are harrowing and can bring out the worst in people. At the same time, however, his entries contain many anecdotes that warrant a closer look. This is a post about journalism, though, and it's worth noting that everything – both allegations of unethical writing and the responses to them – work at a faster pace than ever before.