In the film, the year was 1998. The almost half of the writers of The New Republic were in their mid-twenties. Most of the staff writers were fresh graduates. One of them was Stephen Glass. The film starts off when Glass was on assignment. He was covering a group of young Republicans. He reports about their behavior outside of their political duties. He said that the group of young Republicans drink heavily, smoke pot, and mingle with prostitutes. He said that the scandal of the event is what makes the story interesting.
The editor of The New Republic, Michael Kelly, questioned some of the facts in the article Glass made but the errors made were said to be minor. Because of standing up for the writers, Michael Kelly is dismissed by the publisher. Following the dismissal of Kelly, Chuck Lane is promoted and becomes the new editor. Chuck is a coworker and writer for The New Republic. Glass writes an article entitled “Hack Heaven”. Lane receives a call from Forbes that the sources of the article are fictional. He investigated contents of the article.
He checks all sources and contacts to confirm if the article is real or not. He checks and looks into the ethical practices and standards at The New Republic and he soon realizes that it could destroy the credibility of The New Republic for good. The Shattered Glass is an educational film. It gives the viewers an insight on the important questions about morals, judgment, character, integrity, truth, and responsibility in journalism. This film is a wonderful learning tool for young, aspiring journalists especially how a publication works.
The film was able to bring mystery and suspense to its viewers on how the story was to unfold. The character of Stephan Glass was both a protagonist and an antagonist at the same time. It was fighting himself. He is admirable but at the same time he was fighting what was within him. He seemed like a respectable writer. He projected himself as a resourceful and determined writer. But once you see through his facade, his motives, his manipulation, you realize that everything was a deception.
He manipulated almost everything, every detail and every so called fact. He acted to gain sympathy and pity. Likewise, Chuck Lane is not the typical antagonist. He has many opportunities to grab the power of his position instead he did the roight thing and earned the respect he worked for. Lane's character is not flashy. He wasn’t a really good writer but his ethical practices as a journalist was exceptional. He was strong when he needed too. He took things calmly and made sure that everything was checked.
At first, you may have thought that he was a bad guy but through the course of the film, he was able to gain the trust, respect and sympathy of the viewers. Shattered Glass is a film that poses very important questions. Is it the obligation of the media to only print the truth? What changes can be made to safeguard fraudulent reporting? How can we, as readers, be sure of the integrity of the written word? And what would be the impact of a media that prints fabrications?
To this moment, I'm still puzzled as to how a feature article can have so many falsities after going through such a grueling editorial process. But it still happens. Most recently, the crisis at The New York Times following some fictional reporting during the war with Iraq would have me believe that the problem is far from resolved. Says Billy Ray: "When people can no longer believe what they read, their only choices will be to either turn to television for their daily news, or to stop seeking out news entirely.
Either path, I think, is a very dangerous one for this country. " Shattered Glass is a brilliant movie that analyzes the ethics and fact-checking practices exercised in professional journalism. As a freelance feature writer for such noteworthy publications as Rolling Stone, Harper's, George, and the famed political policy magazine The New Republic, Stephen Glass created quite a controversy when it was discovered that a majority of his work was partially, or in some instances completely, fictionalized.
In fact, it caused the entire industry to rethink and evaluate its editorial practices. Based on the Vanity Fair article by Buzz Bissinger and marking the directorial debut of screenwriter Billy Ray, Shattered Glass is a thought-provoking thriller about honesty and integrity in news reporting that lends credence to the phrase: "Don't believe everything you read. " As media practitioners, we would want to show how to present ideas, thoughts and opinions of the different areas of society to the public through proper collection of facts.
This will bring out the essence and the validity of stories. It provides a discussion of analysis and cooperation within the community. It makes the community aware of these ideas which allow them to be open minded to the different possibilities and views an idea or a thought brings along with it. It also makes narratives significantly interesting and relevant. In addition, it makes it comprehensive and in proportion.
We have the obligation to exercise their personal conscience through the proper collection of valid facts in which they would want to contribute to the society and at the same time taking into consideration the rights of the people. We cannot always believe in the things we read. We must make sure that everything is based on facts for the authenticity to be valid. It will allow us credible and to be respected by the people who will read our future works.