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'Shattered Glass" is the best movie about American journalism since "All the President's Men." In fact, the new picture is better than its popular predecessor, since it doesn't grasp for audience appeal by casting major stars like Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in charismatic leading roles.

More intimate in its approach and much closer to the everyday world of real journalism, "Shattered Glass" is at once an involving fact-based drama and a cautionary tale - showing how even a periodical that prides itself on conscience and conscientiousness can find its own editors badly served, not to mention its readers.

The main character is Stephen Glass, a real-life writer for The New Republic who had become a rising star on the basis of his plucky reporting and colorful prose. Mr. Glass was unmasked in the late 1990s as a flat-out fraud who had juiced up, distorted, or simply invented many of the "facts" in his celebrated articles. Of his 41 published pieces, his editors eventually calculated, no fewer than 27 were partly - or even wholly - products of his overripe imagination.

Based on a 1998 article in Vanity Fair, the movie begins when Glass has already charmed his editors, built a loyal following of readers, and become the envy of other TNR staffers with his hyperactive (and lucrative) freelance articles for other magazines - all while still in his 20s.

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