Author Topic: In the New Yorker...  (Read 488678 times)

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #520 on: August 11, 2012, 11:40:43 am »
Did you hear that Fareed Zakaria (!) was found to have lifted passages for a column in Time from Jill Lepore's piece on guns in America? He has apologized profusely ("terrible mistake," "serious lapse," "entirely my fault") and been suspended for a month. What next??! Do people not think readers have memories or internet connections?

You would think it must be a mistake -- maybe he had the paragraphs in his notes and somehow mistook them for his own writing or something. Because Fareed Zakaria is very high-profile and Jill Lepore is pretty high profile (she has a new book out!) and the article came out in April -- in fact, I read it only a couple of months ago. (If I didn't say so earlier, it's really good.)

The paragraph and Zakaria's changes read like a lazy midde-school student cribbing a school paper from Wikipedia:

Zakaria in "The Case for Gun Control":

    Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA, documents the actual history in Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. Guns were regulated in the U.S. from the earliest years of the Republic. Laws that banned the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813. Other states soon followed: Indiana in 1820, Tennessee and Virginia in 1838, Alabama in 1839 and Ohio in 1859. Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas (Texas!) explained in 1893, the "mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man."

And Lepore in "Battleground America":

    As Adam Winkler, a constitutional-law scholar at U.C.L.A., demonstrates in a remarkably nuanced new book, “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” firearms have been regulated in the United States from the start. Laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, and other states soon followed: Indiana (1820), Tennessee and Virginia (1838), Alabama (1839), and Ohio (1859). Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.

(Material above lifted from Slate.)

« Last Edit: August 11, 2012, 02:10:22 pm by serious crayons »

Offline Meryl

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #521 on: August 11, 2012, 11:50:29 am »
That's so upsetting about Fareed Zakaria!  He's such a favorite of mine for his clear statement of the issues and fair approach.  His show on CNN is one of the best on cable.  I really hope he weathers this reasonably intact.  I would certainly miss him dearly during all this election hoo-ha and also for his knowledge of the Middle East.  :(
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #522 on: August 11, 2012, 02:36:46 pm »
Tell you what, I'm certainly not an apologist for anybody's lapses (except, I hope, my own), but I can't help being a little bit suspicious that now in the digital age, when so much of everything, including researching of sources and taking of notes, is being done electronically, that it's going to get even easier and easier to accidentally plagiarize.

And I am talking accidentally. Deliberate plagiarizers will always be with us, but I'm talking about honestly forgetting to note the source for something copied and pasted from an on-line source--or even finding something on line that has included something not properly attributed.

That doesn't excuse Zakaria, who is not known to me, from being more careful in checking his work and his sources, but I'm just sayin'.

Meanwhile, I thought Lepore's article was very good, too, and I note that when Kentucky, Louisiana, and Indiana passed those laws, they were still essentially frontier states.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #523 on: August 19, 2012, 02:22:34 pm »
I always rejoice when I open a new issue and see an article by Atul Gawande listed in the table of contents.

I'm currently enjoying his article in the Aug. 13 & 20 issue on the benefits of standardization in medicine. I haven't finished it yet.

When I do, I'll have to see whether I can find the location of the nearest Cheesecake Factory.  ;D
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline serious crayons

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #524 on: August 19, 2012, 11:26:37 pm »
I always rejoice when I open a new issue and see an article by Atul Gawande listed in the table of contents.

I'm currently enjoying his article in the Aug. 13 & 20 issue on the benefits of standardization in medicine. I haven't finished it yet.

When I do, I'll have to see whether I can find the location of the nearest Cheesecake Factory.  ;D

I am so with you on this. I'm in the middle of the Cheesecake Factory piece, too.

Yesterday, a Facebook friend asked for suggestions for creative nonfiction she could assign a class she's teaching. I gave several recommendations, then later thought, Atul Gawande! I gave her the link to his site, and particularly suggested the ones about aging and about end-of-life choices. He's brilliant.

And by the way, Cheesecake Factory is pretty good.



Offline Front-Ranger

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #525 on: August 20, 2012, 08:27:39 am »
I'm reading that article as well now!
May 2019 be better for us all.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #526 on: August 20, 2012, 09:17:49 am »
And by the way, Cheesecake Factory is pretty good.

So said Dr. Atul also.   ;D
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #527 on: August 21, 2012, 01:36:58 pm »
Well! I can hardly believe this. I'm actually caught up on my New Yorkers!  :o  ;D
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.

Offline Meryl

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #528 on: August 21, 2012, 03:17:49 pm »
Fareed Zakaria has been reinstated at CNN and Time, I'm glad to report.  He has resigned a position he had at Yale, possibly in an effort to allow himself more time to proof his work.  ;)


Fareed Zakaria and the Perils of Modern-Day Punditry

By Peter Osnos

Is it really is possible to do so many things at once -- columns, daily blog posts, television appearances, Internet videos, books, and speeches? The journalists of old certainly focused their efforts more.

I have been an admirer of Fareed Zakaria's work since he was recruited in 1992 by James Hoge, editor of Foreign Affairs to be that magazine's managing editor, shortly after he had completed a Harvard Ph.D. He proved to be an inspired choice for the position and moved on to Newsweek in 2000, gradually gaining visibility as a sophisticated commentator in a variety of venues. His 2008 book, The Post-American World, was a bestseller, and after a stint with PBS, he launched Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, a show that has a dedicated following and an international audience. It is considered among the most thoughtful programs on global issues.

In 2010, he became a lead columnist for Time. He is also, I gather, in great demand as a paid speaker, and this year delivered the commencement addresses at both Harvard and Duke. He served as a trustee of Yale and as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations Board of Directors. Jon Stewart is clearly a huge fan, and Zakaria has probably appeared on the Daily Show more often than any other figure from our top tier of pundits.

If you followed the flap over Zakaria's failure to credit a paragraph from Jill Lepore of the New Yorker in a column about gun control -- and his resulting short-term suspension from Time and CNN -- you may well already have read about the extent of his professional activities. But listing them here is intended to provide a sense of just how productive he has been, at a consistently high level, and why I hoped this mishap -- widely described, and in my judgment, with exaggeration, as plagiarism -- would turn out to be a small-bore setback in what will be a long and distinguished run.

Now that Time and CNN have reinstated him beginning in September and found no further problems, Zakaria is back on track. He will also resume his column for the Washington Post. The backstory of the case seems to be a confusion in his transcription of notes. Zakaria's apologies were immediate and repeated, even after he was essentially forgiven, because he clearly realized that plagiarism is a cardinal offense for a writer.

An instance of picking up a small section of another person's work (which was quoting facts from a recently published book) didn't strike me as a major failing, although the sensitivities involved were reflected in the public flailing he endured. A clever headline at The Atlantic over a commentary by Jeffrey Goldberg sounded about right to me: "Fareedenfreude (or Alternatively, Schadenfareed)."

Coming so soon after the revelations about Jonah Lehrer's fabrications of quotes from Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works, and a stream of other misrepresentations that cost him his reputation, the Zakaria case easily morphed into further evidence of the same pattern of serious malfeasance, which it certainly was not.

But the episode crystallized something I've been thinking about increasingly in recent years. Today's leading pundits and commentators have adapted to our current media culture in ways that too often seem over-programmed, to the point where it is a veritable certainty that some will eventually stumble. These blunders are taken all the more seriously because of the prominence media stars have attained.

I wonder if it really is possible to do so many things at once: columns, daily blog posts, a full schedule of television appearances and Internet videos, speeches around the country (and the world), and books intended to make a splash. There are also outside activities (or jobs) that take administrative or editorial time. The aggregation of all these activities can be enormously lucrative, but there is also a competitiveness among the cohort -- and their principal employers -- that seems to drive them to take on more roles than frankly makes sense.

Zakaria acknowledged as much in comments to the New York Times: "This week has been very important because it made me realize what is at the core of what I want to do." His goal, he said, is to "help people to think about this fast-moving world and to do this through my work on TV and writing." Other activities, he added, "will have to go away. There's got to be some stripping down." The first resignation was his position at Yale.

Zakaria is by no means the only one of these journalistic polymaths. I am not going to make a list because until there is certifiable wrongdoing, it is fair to assume that they are capable of pulling off so many successes. But the trend toward multi-faceted hyper-productivity is definitely a feature of our age.

The influential columnists of the 1950s through the 1980s -- James Reston, for example, or Russell Baker, the Alsop brothers, and Joseph Kraft, among others -- intently focused on their outstanding output and, while celebrated for their work, spent fewer of their formidable energies on being visible in other arenas. In their day, they probably would not have been recognizable anywhere outside downtown Washington. Television's biggest names -- David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite come to mind -- wrote books only after their anchoring days were over.

Surely there must be examples of media personalities of that time who could juggle columns, articles, books, and broadcasts. But today's demands definitely feel greater than those of the past. Rather than attachment to a single platform, the premium seems to be placed on entrepreneurial diversity.

There is so much of the media in our lives in this digital era that it is less than surprising that a number of the more ambitious and talented of the journalists want to master it all. Spreading your efforts across the many opportunities being offered is considered the best way to build a brand name that will flourish apart from being associated with any single employer. But brands are vulnerable to being undone. "This guy is his own brand," Jim Kelly, a former top editor at Time said in the New York Times, "so . . . you have to be really careful at how you extend yourself. The American corporate landscape is littered with disastrous brand extensions."

The monitors of gaffes, glitches, and writing shortcuts are powerful and have the Internet's resources to track every misstep. Public vilification for mistakes that come from trying to do too much is the downside of stardom. Zakaria's problem turned out to be minor, but nonetheless valuable -- as a warning to others with his ambitions and talents to take extra care in pursuit of acclaim.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/08/fareed-zakaria-and-the-perils-of-modern-day-punditry/261371/
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Offline Jeff Wrangler

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Re: In the New Yorker...
« Reply #529 on: August 26, 2012, 07:35:07 pm »
I'm sure I've said somewhere along the line that I'm not much for the short fiction in The New Yorker, but on the other hand, I do always read Alice Munro. I recommend her story in the current (Aug. 27) issue.
"It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide."--Charles Dickens.