Shattered Glass

Hollywood is making a movie about Stephen J. Glass, one of the most notorious frauds in the recent history of journalism. Formerly a hot star at The New Republic, Glass was fired after he was caught fabricating events, people and whole news stories. Given the nature of their subject matter, the filmmakers say they tried extra hard to make their movie stick to the real facts about Glass. Nevertheless, the film contains invented scenes and dialogue, composite characters, and a fictional news intern.


The "Sgt. Schultz" Defense

Enron CEO Ken Lay and Global Crossing CEO Gary Winnick are both claiming that they knew nothing about the billion-dollar shortfalls, deceptive accounting and other problems at their companies. Experts say ignorance is a "potentially effective legal strategy," even though "you should expect chairmen to be aware of major factors affecting the business." After all, isn't that why they pay them the big bucks?


The Long Boom of Bad Reporting

"Pick up The Wall Street Journal today, and the business pages are full of stories about the men and women who built the stock market bubble," writes business journalist Philip Longman. "But there's another sector of the economy, deeply implicated in the collapse, whose conflicts of interest, ethical lapses and naive enthusiasms have so far received little press attention: business journalism itself." Longman examines the conflicts of interest and delusions that led journalists to hype the stock market bubble.


Fluff is Not Enough

Marjorie Kelly, editor of Business Ethics magazine, reflects on the "perfect storm in ethics" that has unfolded despite a burgeoning corporate social responsibility (CSR) movement. CSR has failed, she says, because "fluff is not enough." It's time, Kelly says, to begin "talking about system design, understanding why corporations behave so single-mindedly. And that means focusing on power.


Halliburton Hires Crisis PR Firm

Halliburton Corp., Vice President Dick Cheney's troubled former company, has hired spin doctor Michael Sitrick, whose firm was most recently hired by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to manage its pedophile-priests scandal. "Halliburton, being sued by shareholders for alleged fraud, is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and might face a financial meltdown if it can't negotiate a global settlement over asbestos litigation," notes the Washington Post.


Pity the Poor CEO

Life is tough these days for corporate executives, sighs US News & World Report. "After being lionized by investors and the media and showered with money and perks for the past decade, corporate officers and directors are now feeling the heat," writes Matthew Benjamin. "To many executives, the job may not be worth the hassle," and many are worried about the legal liabilities that now come with the job.


CNN To Require Celebrities To Disclose Drug Company Ties

"After learning that some celebrities who talked on its news programs about their health problems were being paid by drug companies, CNN has issued a new policy and will tell viewers about the stars' financial ties to corporations," New York Times' Melody Petersen writes. In an August 11 Times article, Petersen revealed the widespread testimonial practice. Petersen reports stars like Lauren Bacall and Kathleen Turner "had been paid to help promote drugs or other medical products" on network morning "news" programs.


"It Was The Best of Times ... Oh No It Wasn't"

"'If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where all these profits came from, and why all these acquisitions went sour, what our net income is, and why WorldCom stock prices are in the toilet, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me. . ." So begins the opening paragraph of the winning submission in the "Best Fictional Earnings Release Contest," sponsored by Gregory FCA, an investor and public relations firm, based in Ardmore, PA.



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