Repeating Yourself Again: Journalist In Trouble For Self-Plagiarizing
Skillful use of "cut and paste" might work in college, but one man just learned it won't fly in the real world. Journalist and author Jonah Lehrer has come under fire recently after he was caught recycling his own writing from The Wall Street Journal for NewYorker.com, where he was recently hired on as a staff writer. The passage in question comes from his recent piece "Why Smart People Are Stupid":
Here’s a simple arithmetic question: A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
The vast majority of people respond quickly and confidently, insisting the ball costs ten cents. This answer is both obvious and wrong. (The correct answer is five cents for the ball and a dollar and five cents for the bat.)
Since this shitstorm began, four different people have begun checking his work, and it's been found that he's done the ol' "command+C command+V" at least 13 times across several magazines over the course of a few years. In a recent interview, he told a New York Times reporter, “It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong.”
Whether you call it repurposing, self-borrowing, recycling, duplication of material, etc., does he really deserve this treatment? In my opinion, if someone is earning several dollars per word from a high-end magazine, they can't double-dip.
Image courtesy Sharenator.
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