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Shattered Glass - Director's statement



Compiled by: Jack Foley

IT WAS with a mixture of dread and awe that I first learned of the saga of Stephen Glass, through Buzz Bissinger’s Vanity Fair piece, Shattered Glass. As soon as I’d read it, I knew that this was a story I wanted to tell.

Glass’ rise and fall resonated with themes that matter to me: the responsibility of the press, the dangers inherent to a cult of personality, and the day-to-day ethical dilemmas that define us as individuals.

Glass quickly became, at least for me, the face of something larger than himself, larger even than the magazine he so badly damaged.

He began to represent a wake-up call about the state of journalism in this country, one made even louder by this spring’s developments of Jayson Blair, at the New York Times.

When people can no longer believe what they read, their only choices will be to either turn to television for their daily news, or to stop seeking out news entirely. Either path, I think, is a very dangerous one for this country.

That’s why I wanted to make this film.

To do it, I needed and received a great deal of help from the very people Glass had wronged at The New Republic: Chuck Lane, the late Michael Kelly, and several sources who wished to remain nameless… all of these people were extremely generous with me, sharing details of a period that had caused them nothing but pain, confusion and embarrassment.

Particular mention should be made of Mike Kelly, who remains the most principled man it’s ever been my good fortune to meet.

Kelly remained haunted by his role in Glass’s rise, and he was sick about the idea that a movie might forever immortalise him as the editor who DIDN’T catch Glass.

But Kelly’s integrity was so great that he couldn’t resist helping me and because Mike, at his core, was a reporter.

And what mattered to him most was that I get the story right. He was truly a giant. His efforts, and those of Chuck Lane and all my other sources, gave the script its authenticity. A cast of wonderful actors then did the rest. The only rule on our set was that every choice in every scene had to tell the truth.

The result, I think, was the cinematic equivalent of good reporting. Shattered Glass is not an attack on a fallen reporter, any more than it is an apology for his behaviour.

It’s just an accurate account of a complicated mess. And when you’re telling a story about reporting and truth, that’s the only standard that matters.

Bill Ray

Editor’s note: Michael Kelly was killed on April 4, 2003, while on assignment in Iraq. Click here for an obituary contained within the national Guardian.

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