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Should a guy who fabricated and got fired get an Esquire assignment?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Small Town Guy, Dec 19, 2009.

  1. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    There's a fascinating story in the current Esquire by Michael Finkel. It's about his relationship with family murderer Christian Longo, who bizarrely impersonated Finkel while on the run after the killings. It was big news when it happened and Finkel wrote about it in his book True Story. The current story - which I don't see online yet - is about Longo wanting to die on Death Row so he can donate his organs, inspired by Will Smith in 7 Pounds.

    As I said, fascinating story, well-written, gripping.

    But it's still kind of...upsetting, annoying, something, that Finkel even got the assignment. Finkel was fired from the New York Times Magazine in 2002 for fabricating a person by combining several sources into one person. The magazine reviewed his other pieces and found no wrongdoing. He's not Stephen Glass. But still, should he be getting prime space in Esquire, when there are so many great stories out there ready to be written by writers who haven't, you know, disgraced themselves and the profession at some point? Especially today, with all that talent out there thrown into the freelance pool with layoffs and cutbacks, there are so many great writers who I think should get a chance with a place like Esquire before Finkel.

    Jack Shafer wrote about Finkel getting such an assignment a few years ago, when he got a cover story in National Geographic.


    Speaking of Glass, in 2003 he wrote a story about marijuana laws for Rolling Stone. Again, why wouldn't he be on the bottom of the list of possible candidates for such a story?

    Maybe Finkel doesn't deserve permanent banishment from journalism for his offense, but I don't think he deserves to write for any of the premier publications still remaining and still producing longform journalism.

    End of rant.
  2. JayFarrar

    JayFarrar Well-Known Member

    So. Gary Smith won an award for what was essentially a piece of fiction on Pat Tillman.
    Last time I checked, Smith was still working for SI. But, I admit I haven't checked in some time.
  3. jaredk

    jaredk Member

    If Smith won an award on the Tillman story, it was for his second effort at it -- a year and more after a first story hurried into print maybe a month after the incident -- and that first story wasn't a "fabrication," the problem with it was he simply took the Army's word for what happened and wrote it as fact....
  4. fishhack2009

    fishhack2009 Active Member


    Fabrication should be a career-ender in this industry.
  5. MrWrite

    MrWrite Member

    What are you, the assignment police?

    I thought the Esquire story was quite interesting, and he's the only one who could tell it from that vantage point. Plus, he admitted in the story why he had been fired, in case people didn't know.

    It's not like a magazine story referencing your fabrication constitutes a career resurrection.
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