14 responses to “The case of Rob Sgobbo, and why writers cheat”

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  2. P.S. Jones @Diary of A Mad Freelancer

    These are all contributing factors to why this happens more often than we’d like to believe. But it’s not the reason it happens. The reason it happens is because the person believes they can get away with it. (Which unfortunately is often true too.) Sure we live in a culture that rewards cheaters all the time and freelance journalism is one of the most stressful fields you can work in. But in the end, the person does it because they think they have a shot of never being found out.

  3. Susan Johnston

    I’m glad you tackled this issue, Michelle! I’m baffled not by why he did it, but how he thought he’d get away with it. Sure, cocky and/or time-strapped journalists could make things up in the pre-Google era, but now it’s unbelievably easy for someone to Google the name of a source and question the validity if nothing comes up. Not only that but the organizations mentioned probably had Google Alerts, which is how they discovered the issue so quickly.

    And then, of course, there’s the issue of public ridicule, which is so much worse now that bloggers can bash him and people can share the story via Twitter, Facebook, forums, etc. Unless he wants to pen a James Frey-type novel/memoir, I doubt he has much of a future in writing. And it’s a shame, because he seemed like a talented writer who cared about tackling important issues. (I don’t doubt that the “Tamicka Bourges” of the world exist, and I bet he could have found someone to share a similar story had he dug a little deeper.)

  4. Kristine

    Michelle, this is a great post. I’ve had to write a few parenting articles lately where I only use the first name of the source, and not their city, because they don’t want to cause embarassment for their children at school if they’re telling me about a sensitive issue. Even then, I feel funny because I wonder if people will think I made it up. I didn’t, I just can’t use all the info… I need to protect the whole family. In any event, I think people cheat because they’re either wired that way to be unethical (did they cheat in school, too?) AND the media culture being 24/7 with internet, CNN & Fox and the resulting RAMPANT competition. Eveyone has to have the “best” story when the consumer has too many choices!
    Keep up the good work, I have your blog listed on my blogroll.

  5. lou

    Some of the comments on Rob Sgobbo are cruel, we all make mistakes, and if you knew him as a person, he happens to be the kindess nicest young men you ever want to meet. Don’t judge a person by one mistake. I’m sure many of us are guilty of making mistakes in there life time.

  6. Teach95

    The fact is, Rob Sgobbo is 25 and has only been working as a professional journalist for 4 months and his first paid gig being at one of the toughest papers in the nation. Just a little over a year ago he was working tirelessly as a special education teacher in the South Bronx through Teach for America. If he was ‘lazy’ or ‘unethical’ as your blog post and some of your commenters suggest, he would have not chosen to be a teacher in a NY public school nor a journalist whose emphasis was education.

    I can not tell you why he did this. What I can tell you is how sad that someone whose history paints nothing but a picture of a talented young man with a passion for education reform has now been forever tarnished by a list of defaming search links all because of one mistake. Links that lead to sites like yours, who are adept at placing his name in urls and in their meta tags in order to capitalize on a young man’s mistake as their readers play judge and jury.

    As the other commenter noted above, we all make mistakes, just most of us do not have them splashed across the web.

  7. AnOnYmouse

    Have y’all simply considered that he is pathological. This had NOTHING to do with pressure or deadlines or being underpaid. He was well paid as a regular freelancer — he worked five days a week at the daily news.

  8. mike steinbach

    the problem is not that a particular reporter lied it is that the MEDIA will not print a point that does not come from an authorized source. And someone that only gives half the story is more than likely lieing just as much as a reporter that makes up sources even if the news item has no “lie” as such in the story