Should Journalist by held accountable for their lies?

Given the recent disclosure about anchor Brian Williams falsifying reports of his transport being hit by direct fire back in 2003. And realizing this is not the first journalist to embellish some details of a story. And surely will not be the last.

Why don’t we make lies told by journalist punishable? Sure the journalist is usually fired. Consider the story of Steven Glass. Glass was a journalist at The New Republic. It was discovered he falsified nearly half his stories. Besides loosing his job at The New Republic what were the consequences? Nothing as far as I’ve found on the Internet. No court involved punishment, community service,  etc. Just removed from the position and later no longer a journalist.

So again how can it be in an industry where the members aspire to such high levels of integrity have we not imposed some form of punishment? Even if it meant some fine imposed. After all as a writer you write to engage the audience. This successful engagement means potentially more readers to your work and as an end result your employer will reap the rewards. Thus yielding more revenue which may also in-turn mean more income for the writer. So as you can see some benefit from the lies. So why not some punishment?

But I guess if we imposed some punishment on journalist we would have to do the same to politicians. Remember the similar story from Hillary Clinton claiming “I remember landing under sniper fire” in 1996 when traveling to Bosnia with her daughter. She would later recant her story saying she made a misstatement.

I guess one is only held accountable for their lies in some lower rung of the society ladder. Pity.