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Lessons Learned From ‘Wall Street Journal’ Intern Firing

Merely a few weeks ago we wrote about the importance of ethics regarding the former Yahoo! CEO and not fabricating a resume. Our post began: “Always tell the truth. In life, in job searching, in everything.”

Well, we’ll add one potent statement to punctuate the sentence by simply stating, “In reporting.”

The Wall Street Journal fired an intern who apparently fabricated sources and quotes, according to The New York Times’ Media Decoder blog. Whether you’re a full-time staffer, freelancer or even an intern who’s three weeks into the job, it matters not: It will cost you if you’re not abiding by one of the main tenants of journalism. As in, the truth.

Here’s what went down: Liane Membis wrote an article on June 17 that was published by the Journal and then later removed because “many of the names contained in the article…were fabricated.”

In fact, the newspaper indicated it removed quotes from two other articles because of similar issues: Editors weren’t able to verify the statements. Although she contributed to a total of five articles during her brief stint, the message couldn’t be more driven home by the importance of being above board.

In addition to losing the internship, perhaps the bigger issue now is her tarnished name and credibility in the biz. For instance, The Yale Daily News indicated they’re looking into the 41 articles she wrote. Their website read: “We are currently investigating the work she did for us and, so far as possible, verifying its accuracy.”

Under a tight deadline to interview sources and get quotes? Get it done. Considering fabricating quotes to meet said deadline? Just say no.

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