Not So Fast, Jonah Lehrer.
Remember the movie Shattered Glass with Hayden Christensen? Ok, ok. We never saw it either. But do you remember the scandal involving The New Republic journalist Stephen Randall Glass who fabricated quotes, sources and articles during his 1995 – 1998 stint with said magazine? Never heard of it? First off, you’re welcome. Secondly, you’re in for a treat because we have yet another journalist who thought he was two steps ahead of his company’s fact checkers. At the end of the day, no matter how entertaining your articles are, if they’re fabricated, they’ll catch up to you.
Up until this past week, Jonah Lehrer was one of the most well paid writers for The New Yorker. But Lehrer experienced a bad case of The Monday’s yesterday when he resigned from his position with the prestigious magazine for making up quotes. And not just any quotes, mind you. He falsified quotes for one of the most closely studied musicians of all time: Bob Dylan. In addition to that, Lehrer was also recycling previously used copy (his own) from his previously published Wall Street Journal essays.
I must say, I quite admire improvisations. But I reserve that for paid performers (actors, comedians, thespians) who have carte blanche from their writers, directors and production studios to do so. Here’s a little advice: Unless your job description outlines the need for fabrications and/or embellishments to company content, we advise you to use your best judgment and save it for a fictional book.