The Sweet Sixteen List of Journalism Disasters: Match the Journalist with the Dirty Deed

It's too early into 1999 to have the first full-fledged journalist disaster story for the new year. But it shouldn't be long. Yet, we'll have to go a long way to top last year, when the practice of journalism became synonymous with the notorious. The image of today's journalist is being shaped by the king of the uber gossip journalists, Matt Drudge. Drudge had a big year of hits and misses, ranging from his exposure of MonicaGate to his being sued for printing false information about White House aide Sidney Blumenthal's marriage.Of course, the biggest ongoing media extravaganzas are the Clinton sex scandal and the attack on Microsoft's monopoly excesses, which threaten to never leave us. But lest we fast forget, in 1998 there were other notable stories, big and small. They ranged from Bertelsman's take over of Random House, to the news that Jerry Springer is a fake; from journalist former icon David Brinkley pimping for Archer Daniels Midland, to Rupert Murdoch dumping a book his company was publishing to once again avoid alienating the Chinese. We also learned a new term -- diversity fatigue -- as the publishing industry admitted that it can't integrate its newsrooms to meet its goals and that once again, various corporate and media company interests will go far to make sure the story doesn't get out.What this dismal list of journalistic events means is that the public's opinion of the profession slid further into the depths. In December, the American Society of Newspaper editors found that 78 percent of the public thought the media was biased and 68 percent felt that newspapers put out stories without checking them.To test your media IQ, here is a matching test. Who were the most memorable fakes of 1998 ? What were the biggest media disasters? Try your hand and match the names in column A with the journalistic deed in column B.ACeslie Armstrong April Oliver and Jack Smith Roberta Baskin Phil Bronstein Steve Wilson and Jane Akre Brian Ross Nina Burleigh Dan Perkins Patricia Smith Mike Davis Mike Gallagher Mike Barnicle Gary Webb Walter IsaacsonStephen Glass Barbara EhrenreichB1. This Cincinnati Inquirer reporter was fired by Gannett for breaking in to Chiquita Brand's voice mail system while working on an expose of the companies policies in South America. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts and is reported to be testifying against others in the case.2. These producers of the Tailwind story for CNN and Time magazine were fired after suggesting that the US used lethal nerve gas to kill defectors in Vietnam. Superiors concluded that allegations were insupportable claims. The producers stick by their story.3. This Playgirl editor quit the magazine to protest the publishing of unauthorized nude photos of heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio4. This Time magazine editor hosted of one of the most star-studded parties of the year, and was described as a "consummate party-goer" in the New York Times and "great at schmoozing the powerful and famous" by Newsweek.5. This CBS correspondent complained about on-air journalist wearing Nike logos during the Olympics. She attributed CBS's commercial relationship with Nike to the lack of follow up by her network to her award-winning investigation of sweatshops in Asia.6. These reporters were fired by Fox News affiliate in Florida for refusing to change their reporting under pressure from superiors on a Monsanto Bovine Growth Hormone Story. The pair recently won a Society of Professional Journalists Award for Ethics.7. "Fabricator of the Year" -- Fact checking revealed that this writer had used fictional material in at least 27 New Republic stories as well as other pieces in Rolling Stone and Harpers.8. This reporter described enjoying Bill Clinton admiring her legs and declared she would gladly perform fellatio on the president, just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.9. This veteran reporter's investigative story, revealing that the problem of pedophiles was most acute at Disneyworld among other theme parks, was killed by parent Disney/ABC.10. This radical historian and journalist has been recently accused of exaggerating material in his apocalyptic view of Los Angeles and the city's impending doom.11 This Boston Globe columnist was forced to resign for fabricating stories and characters in columns and has resurfaced with an attitude at open-mike poetry slams.12. This Boston Globe columnist was forced to resign for fabricating stories and characters in columns and has resurfaced as a reporter for ESPN13. This cartoonist's controversial Tom Tomorrow strip was apparently judged too radical for U.S. News and Word Report and dumped after a brief stint.14. This renowned feminist writer lost her Time magazine column despite the June 29th Time cover story "Is Feminism Dead? which lamented the fading of authentic feminism.15. This former San Jose Mercury News reporter was abandoned by his own paper and slammed by the establishment press for his series alleging CIA/Contra involvement in crack cocaine. His book, and follow up admissions by the CIA Inspector General, generally documented and supported his claims, but were all but ignored by the same media which attacked him.16. This San Francisco Examiner editor raised eyebrows, and gave journalism a much needed lift, by marrying Sharon Stone.ANSWERS1 - Mike Gallagher 2 - April Oliver and Jack Smith 3 - Ceslie Armstrong 4 - Walter Isaacson5 - Roberta Baskin 6 - Steve Wilson and Jane Akre 7 - Stephen Glass 8 - Nina Burleigh 9 - Brian Ross 10 - Mike Davis 11 - Patricia Smith 12 - Mike Barnicle 13 - Dan Perkins 14 - Barbara Ehrenreich15 - Gary Webb 16 - Phil Bronstein


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