Professors say they will teach the case of Jonah Lehrer's downfall alongside other fabricators and plagiarists including Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair
For some journalists, "Imagine: How Creativity Works" author and journalist Jonah Lehrer's ethical breaches have earned him a place among journalism's most ignominous former practitioners.
The 31-year-old prodigy, often compared to titans like Malcolm Gladwell, resigned in disgrace from the New Yorker Monday after a reporter from Tablet Magazine revealed that he had fudged Bob Dylan quotes and then, feeling "panicked," lied about the source.
Professors at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism now say Lehrer's name will be added to notorious plagiarizers and fabricators Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair in their curricula.
"To me, it's just so sad that it keeps happening with these talented young men," Geneva Overholser, director of USC's Annenberg school, told TheWrap. "It happened with Stephen Glass, Jayson Blair and, now, Jonah Lehrer.
She said in the internet-age, weak or hazy attributions of fact plague journalism and erode one of the profession's defining pillars: Verification.
"Verification is really the thing that makes journalism what it is," Overholser said.
Robert Hernandez, a professor at the Annenberg school, said Lehrer's transgressions make it more difficult for journalists to operate.
"I personally don't have a lot of patience for journalists that lie," he told TheWrap. "Get out of this business if you can't play by these honorable, ethical rules."
Commenting on a post by media blogger Jim Romenesko — who first thinned the ice beneath Lehrer when he exposed the New Yorker's recent hire to have recycled much of his own, previously published material — a professor who said she taught a media ethics class at the University of Detroit Mercy said the pressure to perform at journalism's top echelon is no excuse for ethical breaches.
"Watch 'Shattered Glass,'" Maureen McDonald wrote, referring to the film about the revelation that New Republic writer Stephen Glass had falsified numerous stories. "People want so badly to be superstars. To reach the stature of New Yorker, New Republic, etc. you have to have the smoothest, most engaging writing and the sharpest, spot-on quotes."
And those quotes, she added, must be authentic.