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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Sunday Age columnist and Jesse Macbeth dupe Terry Lane has resigned:

There are three unforgivable sins in journalism: plagiarism, fabrication and failing to check the facts. I am guilty of the last.

It came about like this. My attention was drawn to what looked like a professionally packaged documentary video in which “US Ranger” (I now know that that is bogus) Jesse Macbeth recounts his experiences as a soldier in Iraq, where he claimed to have served for 16 months.

I was completely taken in by his fake sincerity. That, I suppose, could be excusable for any person with no responsibility to check bona fides, but in my case I fell for it because I wanted to believe it. That is inexcusable. As soon as I was made aware of what I had done I offered my resignation to Peter Fray, the editor of The Sunday Age. I have embarrassed the newspaper for which I have written since the first issue which makes me ashamed.

There are no excuses. No extenuating circumstances. Opinion writers are not expected to be objective and disinterested but that doesn’t give licence to be indifferent to facts. I should have checked.

Via subscription site Crikey; no link. (Incidentally, Crikey makes a mistake of its own, writing that “there are few leftie scalps that right-wing Australian commentators like Tim Blair – who’s lapping it up this morning – would be happier to claim.” The post they link to went up on Sunday.)

All credit to readers Dale and Tony T. for this one.

UPDATE. Further from the Australian, which notes: “The column was still on the paper’s website last night.”

UPDATE II. Chrisgo reports:

Jon Faine (ABC 774 Melb.) has just completed a 30 min. interview with Eric Beecher (Crikey) about Terry Lane’s blunder and “journalistic ethics” without once uttering the words “Tim Blair”.

Just as well. The last time Beecher mentioned me, he got everything wrong.

Posted by Tim B. on 08/01/2006 at 02:23 AM
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