Journalist “integrity”: how heavily did The Atlantic edit felon John Lennon’s article?

On Friday, I pointed out convicted felon John Lennon’s article that the Atlantic ran, which made an eloquent, if emotional case for gun control. It was thoughtful and well-written, which is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Atlantic.

It turns out that the reason it was so thoughtful and well-written is because it appears that the article was edited heavily by the staff at the Atlantic. See, an eagle eyed reader was able to point us to author John Lennon’s online dating profile on the website “plenty of fish.” Revulsion at the concept of convicted felons being allowed access to dating websites aside, the reason that this dating profile casts doubt on the quality of the Atlantic’s piece is simple – the “About me” section of the profile. I’ll let you read it for yourself in all its execrable detail:

I’m a NY City kid, grew up in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. I come from a good working class family, who are very supportive. I’m mostly Irish, tall, dark and handsome… winks and smiles. When discussing my past, Iam candid. In brief, I entertained a shallow, dopey lifestyle, and wound up with a whole slew of time, I do take full responsbility for my crimes. Accapting life on life’s terms was important to me. I’m sober, I don’t smoke, I exercise and try to live mind, body, and soul. im spiritual(not religious),does sound a bit cliche, but it works for me. Overall,I’m at a good place in my life; Im content. I would even venture to say-I’m happy. I mean, I’m not walking on clouds or anything As you can imagine, Attica can be a morbid place, but I try to detach from the physicality of it all and focus on my individuality. Education is awesome. I consume myself with reading and learning. I’m an avid student of the financial markets. However, I’m versatile, we can vibe and correspond about anything. I’d like to hear about your interests and goals and accomplishments. Writing is cathartic, so write and I’ll listen. Which brings me to materialize from this; I suppose I want to experience a relationship I’ve never experienced, but belive I deserve . So, if you’re funny, independent, ambitious and willing to break away from the norm, drop me a line. John Lennon (04A0823)
Attica Correctional Facility
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Now, it is entirely possible that the inmate, since writing this profile, has spent considerable amounts of time in the prison library, taken classes, and learned how to write a professional, thoughtful, and intelligent article. I have to acknowledge that possibility, but at the same time it’s not nearly as likely as the possibility that the professional editors at The Atlantic took Lennon’s rough draft and sculpted it into a piece of anti-gun propaganda that would better fit their needs.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you think is more likely. Do you think that a convicted felon educated himself to the point that he could write the piece in the Atlantic, or do you think that the editorial staff at the Atlantic ghost-wrote the majority of the article to serve their own purposes?

5 thoughts on “Journalist “integrity”: how heavily did The Atlantic edit felon John Lennon’s article?”

  1. As always, the question is not, “Did they lie?” but “What did they lie about?” NY literary types are always on the lookout for their next Jack Abbott and the new Belly of the Beast that will lend a frisson of imagined authenticity to their plastic, superficial lives.

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