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Fortune may be Fickle, but not Original

Fortune may be Fickle, but not Original

By, Stephen Andrews, VP, Fusion PR – @stevebandrews

Surely by now most of us within the always-on 24×7 media hungry, black-holed appetite public relations profession are all aware of the latest in major media disgrace stories, and, dare I say, perhaps even feeling a slight sense of shadenfreuden over Fortune’s plagiarism debacle.

It brings to mind the heady days of 03 when we found out Jayson Blair was spending leisurely days in his NYC apartment somehow having mastered the elusive art of being in two in places simultaneously and filing regurgitated copy from one or perhaps even both of these locations. Oddly enough among my two primary sets of friends, one being other cheap, insensitive, greedy, poorly prepared and completely not understanding what news really is PR people and the other being shinny citizen journalists firmly at the apex of our vaunted fifth estate, the only shock at Blair’s behavior came from the latter group. The intensity of their surprise would have been laughable were it not almost sad in the same way it’s sad whenever you observe someone’s illusions being shattered.

Now Barney Gimbel (You will notice the lack of any bio here) of Fortune Magazine has resigned over what appears to be another case of plagiarism with the ironic twist being Gimbel seems to have copied his material from the NYT Magazine. Perhaps we should trace the original article, given its source, and determine who actually wrote the original piece.

In each case the publications appear to have conducted internal investigations, whatever that translates to actually meaning. In both cases the reporters being investigated resigned when confronted. In these days of economic, political and various other unrests it seems that our media need to be more vigilant, more careful and far more diligent with their supervision and oversight of reporters and what they’re publishing.

Words have immense power, and sloppy journalistic control can cause real harm to real people. Business and political leaders make decisions based on what is happening around them, and part of this information comes from media outlets like Fortune and the NYT. These decisions cause people to lose jobs and shape their families’ futures and fortunes, Gimbel and Blair are two high-visibility example of the media’s failure to police itself and more importantly cause real pain and suffering to people these publications, through their actions, obviously care nothing about.

  • Suzanne McGee

    March 5, 2009 at 11:57 am Reply

    Steve, your points really hit home here. Amazing that journalists are doing this when there are any number of mechanisms to double check their work. Same comment for all professions, but these guys are doing their colleagues no favors with their actions.

  • Steve

    March 11, 2009 at 6:33 pm Reply

    Agreed, and good point. I think every profession has a few truly bad people.

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