OLD Media Moves

The Fortune cover that may lead to a guilty verdict

December 22, 2021

Posted by Chris Roush

Parl Farhi of the Washington Post writes about the 2014 Fortune cover story by Roger Parloff about Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes that may lead a jury to convict her.

Farhi writes, “Nevertheless, the Fortune article vaulted Holmes to celebrity status. Journalists trekked to Theranos’s headquarters in Palo Alto, producing a flood of equally awed and flawed stories. Forbes, the New Yorker and USA Today, among others, profiled her. NPR, Fox Business, CNN, CNBC and CBS News put her on the air. Glamour magazine named Holmes one of its women of the year.

“The glowing coverage was typical of an era in which tech entrepreneurs were routinely lionized as masters of world-changing innovation, said Noah Shachtman, a former science and technology journalist at Wired magazine who now edits Rolling Stone magazine. Long before Holmes came along, business reporters had written rhapsodies to the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. Only later did many journalists turn their attention to the social harm caused by big tech, and problematic business practices inside their companies.

“‘If you look across business and tech reporting, [the Theranos boomlet] was a moment when the [news] industry was too credulous, too fawning, too deferential to power,’ Shachtman said. The reporting reflected ‘an urge among journalists to turn the subject of their stories into heroes or villains.’ (Wired ran a flattering story on Holmes, too).”

Read more here.

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