Time for the Journalistic Death Penalty?

Freddie SayersEditor-in-Chief of YouGov
February 14, 2013, 9:26 PM GMT+0

Last year, New Yorker science writer Jonah Lehrer was forced to resign after being caught fabricating quotes and republishing old stories as fresh news. Last week he was paid $20,000 by the Knight Foundation to make a speech telling his story, and he has revealed he continues to write.

Gawker blogger Hamilton Nolan argues that he should never be seen in journalism again:

"How about this: if you commit a huge, inexcusable journalistic crime, on the level of Blair or Lehrer, you get blacklisted from paid journalism jobs. If you take time off, and do soul-searching, and improve yourself, and become a truly better person, and achieve spiritual redemption, we will be the first to stand up and applaud you. But you still shouldn't be hired, until every talented person who didn't commit an inexcusable journalistic crime is already safely employed. After that, welcome back." (...)

Meanwhile in the L.A. Times Book Critic asks, "Am I the only one who feels bad for Jonah Lehrer?"

"We live in a culture defined by sanctimony, in which we react to people’s flaws, their failings, not with compassion but disdain. What did we expect from Lehrer? And why did we expect anything at all? Like every one of us, he is a conflicted human, his own worst enemy, but you’d hardly know that from the pile-on provoked by his talk. (...)

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