Rapping on the “Glass”  | American Journalism Review
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From AJR,   December/January 2004

Rapping on the “Glass”   

By Jill Rosen
Jill Rosen is AJR's assistant managing editor     


The movie "Shattered Glass," about the fall from grace of New Republic reporter/fabricator Stephen Glass, opened this fall to generally enthusiastic applause from critics. Because half of the journalism industry was chomping at the bit for the film while the other half wished it would go away, it's interesting to read how the reviewers, journalists themselves, considered the film:

Hint-hint, journalism is boring

" 'Shattered Glass' takes what would seem to be unpromising movie material--the true story of a magazine reporter..."
-- New York Post

"I'm not sure how interested the moviegoing public will be in the internecine struggles of the New Republic."
-- Slate

"It does resemble 'All the President's Men' in the way it attempts to turn the drudgery of research into high drama."
-- New York's Daily News

" 'Shattered Glass' is an ardent defense of ethical journalism--which is moving, but may not be all that exciting to a general audience."
-- OC Weekly

Icky, wet description of Stephen Glass

"He's a creep so smug, oily and manipulative you crave his downfall..."
-- New York Post

"Glass is a slippery character."
-- The Hollywood Reporter

Glass "is played by Hayden Christensen with a clammy, obsequious brilliance."
-- Suburban New York's Journal News

"Christensen...plays Glass with a wet, red weak mouth and a wan lack of focus."
-- OC Weekly

For insiders only

"The Glass story can still exert a morbid fascination among journalists of a certain age and temperament, the kind of people who spend way too much time surfing media-gossip blogs and Web sites and who are generally obsessed with tracking the behavior of the fish in the neighboring bowls."
-- New York Times

"It's a change to see a story with editors as the heroes."
-- Newark's Star-Ledger

"Next to the subsequent Jayson Blair debacle at the New York Times, the Glass affair is about as scandalous as a condom found in the parking lot at a National Young Christian Leadership Conference."
-- New York's Daily News

The sobering message

" 'Shattered Glass' shows us that sometimes it is the journalists who cannot be trusted."
-- filmcritic.com

"It raises questions about how much reliability we should place in our everyday sources of news if faking stories is so simple."
-- James Berardinelli of Reelviews

"The film emerges as a cautionary tale about the perils of succeeding no matter the cost, and the frailties of a profession that is supposed to protect our freedoms by always revealing the truth--no matter the cost."
-- CNN

" 'Shattered Glass' is at once an involving fact-based drama and a cautionary tale --how even a periodical that prides itself on conscience and conscientiousness can find its own editors badly served, not to mention its readers."
-- Christian Science Monitor

Headline notables

Spike this journalism story
-- New York's Daily News

Glittering, finely pointed 'Glass'
-- CNN

'Glass' Half-Full
-- New York Post

Bullshit detected
-- OC Weekly

'Glass' puts the pieces together
-- USA Today

The verdict

"Its uplifting climax is an eye-roller. But it makes us feel the way our forefathers must have felt after a really good public stoning."
-- Slate

"Told in dully straightforward terms, there's nothing here that would feel out of place in an old-fashioned TV movie."
-- Newark's Star-Ledger

"The most entertaining inside-journalism movie since 'All the Presidents Men'."
-- Premiere

"One of the best films I've seen all year."
-- CNN

"Like its subject, the movie is self-important yet insipid."
-- Village Voice

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