It is not hard to become a professional in whatever field you work in, but what is really challenging is to keep you moral compass straight when you pursue your career development and success. No matter where you are, or where you want to go, there will always be obstacles and dilemmas questioning your ethics. When you don’t have a code of conduct that guides you through your career path, you are more likely to commit moral mistakes and cause professional failures. The problem is, recovering from such a failure is very hard, if not impossible. Jobzella is offering you the top five examples of people who failed in their professions, and couldn’t comeback.
- Janet Cooke
She is a former American journalist, who worked for the Washington Post. In September 1980, she wrote an article entitled “Jimmy’s World,” about the life of an 8-years-old boy who is a heroin addict. His story was reflecting how the heroin trade was destroying the low-income neighborhoods in Washington D.C. especially that he wanted to grow up to become a drug dealer. The story caused controversy and raised outrage among the people, and the government, which asked Janet to uncover where the boy is so they can help him.
However, Janet refused and said that she needed to protect her sources, and that she was afraid on her life from the drug dealers. The city government didn’t have a choice but to start an intensive search that involved all the city police to find the kid. Then, rumors started to spread questioning the existence of the kid and claiming that Janet made him up. Nevertheless, Janet’s editor and the Washington Post supported her, and submitted the story for the Pulitzer Prize. In April 1981, Janet won the prize for feature writing, which made people angrier. The Post then was informed that the academic certificates and degrees Janet listed on her CV were not accurate, which forced them to confront her and demand a proof for the boy’s existence. As she fabricated the whole story, Janet admitted that she had never met the boy, and resigned from the Post. She also returned her Pulitzer Prize, humiliating herself and the Post, and marking the first time in history for the Prize to be returned. Even after more than 30 years since the incident, Janet’s name is still attached and reflects the deception and hoax she committed, and she failed to revive her writing and journalistic career.
- Stephen Glass
He is an American former journalist. At the age of 25, he was one of the best young reporters in the US. Writing for The New Republic and the Rolling Stone, Glass produced the best stories and reported on some of the best articles. His editors loved the ideas he would bring up in every editorial meeting, and how his sources always helped him land the perfect story. In May 1998, Glass wrote a story entitled “Hack Heaven,” about a 15-years-old teenager who hacked into the computer network of a company called “Jukt Micronics,” forcing the company to pay him tens of thousands of dollars not to destroy the system, and hired him as an information security consultant. One reporter from Forbes magazine, started to verify the story, to find out why and how the New Republic got the story first.
However, he couldn’t find any information about the company when he googled its name. When the reporter contacted the editor and they both started questioning Glass about the story, he created fake notes, fake website for the company, fake voicemails for people working in the company and the teenager, and even a fake business card, to support his story. Although Glass was building up lies and lies to protect himself, nothing made sense and he failed to support the truth or occurrence of the story. Finally when the editor went with Glass to the press conference where the teenager announced what he did and his new job, he understood that the story was completely fabricated. He also discovered that Glass’s brother was the one answering phone calls, and he fired Glass immediately. After the investigation, the New Republic discovered that 27 of Glass’s articles included fabricated materials, starting with fabricated notes, websites and companies, into fabricated quotes, events and even people. They lying started with Glass when he wanted to write the perfect quote to add to a story, but none of the sources could provide it. Then he couldn’t stop lying, especially with all the respect and admiration he was getting. After the incident, Glass earned a law degree, but wasn’t certified. Then he wrote his story in a biographical novel called “The Fabulist,” yet could not practice journalism again since then.
- Brian Williams
He is a well-known American journalist, who worked for several news companies before joining NBC as the anchor and managing editor of Nightly News, which is NBC’s evening news program, for about 10 years. In March 2006, Williams reported from Iraq that a helicopter, in which he was riding, was forced down after being hit by an RPG from the enemy. In 2007, he retold the same story with more details on how it felt being on the helicopter after getting hit, and what he saw and heard. His story contradicted what the crew of the craft stated. What actually happened was that Williams’ craft came about 30 minutes after their craft, so there is no way he could have seen the RPG coming or falling down to the ground. The truth was revealed when CNN interviewed the pilot of the helicopter in February 2015. Five days after the scandal outbreak, NBC News President announced suspending Williams for 6 months without pay, for lying in his Iraqi War coverage, and misleading the public. Although Williams returned to work in the news for MSNBC, his credibility and respect didn’t and won’t be recovered from his professional failure.
- Will Dana
He is an American journalist, who worked as the Senior Editor for the Rolling Stone Magazine for more than 10 years, then as the Managing Editor in the same magazine for more than 9 years. In November 2014, Will oversaw an article entitled “A Rape on Campus,” describing a group sexual assault at the University of Virginia in 2012. The story claimed that some members of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, raped a woman, who was 18 years old at the time,as a part of an initiation rite during a house party. The article also discussed how the university mishandled the situation and raised concerns regarding sexual assaults on campuses and how the victims are usually neglected. The girl, as reported later in the story, wanted to commit suicide, and left school for a while before she returned and joined the school’s Sexual Misconduct Board, but still she couldn’t file a complaint against the rapists. People were outraged, and the school suspended all fraternities, sororities and Greek organizations and asked the police department to investigate the incident. When other media outlets and newspapers began to investigate the incident, they found discrepancies and flows in the article.
Moreover, after four months of investigating, the police department found no evidence that could support the occurrence of the crime.In April 2015, the Rolling Stone retracted the article and issued multiple apologies for the story. A month after, the university’s Associate Dean of Students sued the magazine for claiming that she did nothing to help the victim and that she tried to suppress her to protect the university’s reputation. Then, the fraternity filed a defamation suit against the magazine, and for the harmful attacks they suffered from the article. In June 2015, Will left the magazine, and hasn’t been working since.
- Reham Saeed:
She is an Egyptian TV presenter. She started her career in a TV show called “Sabaya El Kahir,” in which she discussed controversial topics, and raised funds to help some of those who are in need. In October 2015, Reham told the story of a girl who was sexually harassed in a mall, and the harasser was not arrested even when she complained to the security guard. What raised the controversy and outraged people is that the incident was caught on tape, and no one helped the girl. In her episode, Reham was expected to discuss the sexual harassment problem in Egypt. Nevertheless, she challenged the woman, suggesting that her “revealing clothes,” was the reason that provoked the harassment. Reham also showed photos of the woman, supporting her point of view that the woman wears inappropriate clothes, and shows her body. What made things worse was that these photos were taken from the woman’s phone without her consent, but Reham claimed that she received them from her audience on WhatsApp. People were furious, and started attacking her on different social media channels, creating Arabic hashtags like “Die Reham” and “Prosecute Reham Saeed,” which both trended in Egypt. They also called for boycotting the companies that sponsored her program. As a result, these companies wrote on social media that they won’t sponsor the program anymore, and retreated one after the other. The TV network then announced the suspension of the program temporarily.
On the other hand, the woman filed a legal complaint against the network, and Reham was sentenced to a year in jail for violating her guest’s privacy and implying that she deserved to be assaulted. Reham was also fined 10,000 Egyptian pound, but after 6 months, she returned to present her show again. In the first episode, she stated what she calls “an apology,” that did not contain any form of sorrow to the people. She first said that she apologizes for those whom got upset even if “they were wrong,” or “for the wrong reason.” She added that she knows that the people wanted punishment, but she already got punished by staying at home for 6 months, being mocked by people and called with bad names, and more importantly, receiving a sentence of year and a half in jail. The only real apology she made, however, was for the families of the sick children whom she couldn’t help because of the lack of donations. So, to sum up her video from the first episode, Reham did not and will not apologize to the woman or to the people who got offended and outraged, she thinks that she did not do anything wrong and that she received more punishment than she deserves, and that she and her show are back again.
This post is also available in: Arabic
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