Karl Taro Greenfeld: ‘Journalism is self-policing itself probably better than ever, but meanwhile, journalism isn’t getting any better’

By Jason Boog Comment

Veteran journalist Karl Taro Greenfeld talked about his new novel, Triburbia on the Morning Media Menu today, sharing advice for journalists and writers coping with a dramatically evolving landscape.

Follow this link to read a Byliner excerpt from his book, a section about a journalist caught fabricating chunks of his memoir. It arrived as a timely piece of writing after Jonah Lehrer‘s recent scandal.

Press play to listen, but we’ve included quotes from the interview below: “Even though we seem to be able to unmask journalistic frauds with greater and greater regularity, is that really improving journalism at all? That’s a funny thing that’s happening. Journalism is self-policing itself probably better than ever, but meanwhile, journalism isn’t getting any better for all of that.”

Greenfeld explained more about plagiarism: “One thing I’ve learned in the Internet age is you cannot get away with this stuff. You can’t get away with making up books. When I started out, pre-Internet, the rules were a little looser. I’m interested whenever somebody gets in trouble for this.”

He continued: “I really like those kind stories of people getting caught for fraud. We seem to have more and more of them, but that’s because of the Internet, right? All this stuff is happening because the Internet allows you to search and check everything. It’s unlikely that 20 years ago Jonah Lehrer would have even happened. It wouldn’t have been so easy to figure out that he’d written the same story in The Wall Street Journal a few years ago.”

He also explained why he chose Byliner for his novel excerpt: “I noticed that they had started to do fiction and that Amy Tan had just published a novella through Byliner. I thought maybe I could do an excerpt of my book on Byliner and instead of selling it (which Amy Tan did), I could use it as a promotional device. Maybe people will read that 5,000-word excerpt and click on the link. There has already been a lot of mystery: do excerpts really sell books? In this case, we can actually find out because there is a link to buy the book.”