Saturday, July 2, 2011

Johann Hari should admit he is a plagiarist - and so should other journalists

The debate about Johann Hari and plagiarism has descended into a discussion over whether lifting quotes from an interviewee's previous writings constitutes plagiarism. Most commentators, Mark Lawson included, have missed the fact that Hari has not only done this with quotes, but also with parts of interviews that he has passed off as his own writing, ie not put into the mouths of his interviewees. Here is just one example:
'One of my earliest memories is of clinging to my mother's legs while police ransacked our house, looking for my father.'
This is from page 1, Chapter 1 of Raising My Voice by Malalai Joya and Derrick O'Keefe, published in July 2009.
'Her earliest memory is of clinging to her mother's legs while policemen ransacked their house looking for evidence of where her father was hiding.'
And this is from Malalai Joya: The woman who will not be silenced by Johann Hari, The Independent, 28 July 2009.

I would like to see a defence of this! It is plagiarism, pure and simple. It's time to stop trying to fudge this discussion. Johann Hari is a plagiarist. It looks very much like he is a systematic one, and has been for years. Plagiarism is not forgivable simply because you agree with the plagiarist's politics, and if you have any integrity as a journalist you should condemn Hari for it, and for lying about it in his two articles on the subject. Hari has yet to admit that he has done this, and it is time he does.


  1. Hari can't make this admission, because he needs to preserve the capability. Without embellishment, what would his "journalism" have left to offer?

  2. Jeremy, I did originally wonder if the interview with Joya actually took place. It's listed on her website as one of her media contacts, so I suppose that does actually mean he met her:

    But that does not - of course - explain Hari's actions, far less his looting of at least three other journalists' work for his 'interviews' with Gareth Thomas and Hugo Chavez.

    PS: I really enjoyed reading 'Free Agent'.