Johann Hari Admits Plagiarism, Will Take 4 Unpaid Months off from UK Independent & Have Journalism Training

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Johann Hari admitted and apologized for plagiarizing in some of his reported interviews. (Credit: Independent, screenshot)

Nearly three months after bloggers first called out the Independent’s Johann Hari for plagiarism, he has admitted to the charges, the Independent reported.

As iMediaEthics has written, Hari was accused in a series of posts of plagiarizing for his reported interviews for the Independent. Hari initially pushed back from the charges but later apologized. However, he denied that what he did was plagiarism.  Instead, Hari explained, he would replace rough quotes he was told in interviews with cleaner versions of the quotes made by the interviewee in another publication or format.

Hari didn’t state in those cases that the quotes were made to another reporter or in another publication.  The quotes were presented as if they were made to him.

The Guardian noted:

“In one interview, with journalist Ann Leslie, critics claimed more than 500 words of Hari’s near-5,000 word piece came from an article she wrote in the Daily Mail.”

The Independent announced in July it would suspend Hari and review the case against him and earlier this week announced the review, conducted by former Independent editor Andreas Whittam Smith, had been completed, as iMediaEthics has written.

The review’s verdict won’t result in Hari’s firing. Instead, Hari has to “attend a journalism training course before being allowed to rejoin the newspaper,” the Independent announced.   He also has to take “four months’ unpaid leave” and pay for the training program.

According to the Independent, Hari “acknowledged embellishing quotations in articles and plagiarism” after the review was conducted. Hari also admitted to sockpuppetry — or using a fake identity online.  His phony alter-ego was named “David Rose” and would “attack [Hari’s] critics by editing their Wikipedia entries.”

Hari issued a “personal apology” published here on the Independent’s website.  “I did two wrong and stupid things,” Hari wrote, citing the quote lifting and the sock puppetry.

Regarding the quote lifting and his initial defense that it was a standard practice for journalists to substitute clean quotes in place of messier quotes.  He noted he “was wrong” and that interviews are “a report of an encounter.” He noted that he was “arrogant and stupid not to ask” fellow journalists about using other publications’ quotations and about attribution.

Hari noted that going forward after his leave of absence, he will “will footnote all my articles online and post the audio online of any on-the-record conversations so that everyone can hear them and verify they were said directly to me.”

He called his sock-puppetry actions on Wikipedia “juvenile” and “malicious” at times.  He added that he gave back his 2008 Orwell Prize despite defending “the articles which won” the award.  He stated:

“I am returning it as an act of contrition for the errors I made elsewhere, in my interviews. But this isn’t much, since it has been reported that they are minded to take it away anyway.”

BBC News noted that an Orwell Prize spokesperson confirmed that Hari “returned” his award and that the “Orwell Prize accepts Hari’s withdrawal.”

The Independent’s Chris Blackhurst stated: “We always pride ourselves on pursuing the highest ethical standards at The Independent. Regrettably, Johann fell below those in some aspects of his journalism. He has acknowledged his mistakes and made a full apology. There is no doubting his talent as a columnist and we are hoping to see him back in The Independent in the not too distant future.”


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Johann Hari Admits Plagiarism, Will Take 4 Unpaid Months off from UK Independent & Have Journalism Training

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