Update on Jonah Lehrer: Lehrer Apologizes, New Yorker Adds another Editor's

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The New Yorker added this editor's note to a Jan. 30 article by Jonah Lehrer for the New Yorker. (Credit: New Yorker, screenshot)

Jonah Lehrer apologized this week for re-using his own writing for other publications in his five blog posts for the New Yorker magazine, the New York Times reported.  Lehrer is quoted as saying:

“It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong.”

As we wrote, Jim Romenesko brought to the New Yorker’s attention an example of one of Lehrer’s blog posts that used the same material from Lehrer’s October 2011 Wall Street Journal column, and later New York Magazine noted that Lehrer had repeatedly used portions of his previously published work in New Yorker blogs without letting the readers know it had been previously published elsewhere.

Lehrer’s publisher Houghon Mifflin Harcourt, issued a statement about this, noting that Lehrer “owns the rights to the relevant articles, so no permission was needed” but will disclose going forward if he’s previously published content.

As we wrote earlier this week, the New Yorker’s senior director of public relations, Alexa Cassanos, told iMediaEthics: “Writers shouldn’t recycle old material unless there’s good reason to do so, in which case it should be disclosed.”

And, on top of the earlier five editor’s notes, another note was added to this January 30, 2012 article filed under “Reporting & Essays” titled “Groupthink: the brainstorming myth,” Mathew Ingram noted on Twitter.

That article’s editor’s note discloses that reported comments attributed to Noam Chomsky weren’t “made directly to Jonah Lehrer” but instead to Technology Review.

The editor’s note reads:

“*Editor’s Note: Noam Chomsky’s comments about M.I.T.’s Building 20 were not made directly to Jonah Lehrer, nor was a colleague’s description of Chomsky’s and Morris Halle’s offices as ‘the two most miserable holes in the whole place.’ Chomsky and his colleague were interviewed by Peter Dizikes for his article in the November/December issue of Technology Review.”

We wrote to Technology Review for comment about this and were told that Technology Review recently found out about the unattributed comments and contacted the New Yorker about them.  Technology Review’s Heather Holmes provided us this statement:

Technology Review can confirm the facts about which the reporter is inquiring: we were not contacted by The New Yorker or Mr Lehrer before publication, we reached out to Mr Lehrer’s editor once we noticed the matter, and it was settled to our satisfaction.

“Technology Review would also like to note that Peter Dizkes’s story appeared *not* in the ‘national’ edition of Technology Review read by the general public, but in the alumni edition of the publication, in the ‘MIT News’ addendum.”

Last year, we wrote about the case of UK Independent journalist Johann Hari, who eventually apologized, was suspended, took journalism training and left the newspaper after he reported quotes published by other outlets as if they had been made to him.

According to the NY Times, theNewYorker.com’s editor, Nicholas Thompson, confirmed the incident didn’t affect Lehrer’s employment. The New Yorker’s senior director of public relations didn’t respond to iMediaEthics June 19 question about Lehrer’s employment status.

Wired magazine, where Lehrer was contributing editor until he resigned for the New Yorker position this month, told Romenesko that it is “reviewing the 300 posts that Jonah Lehrer wrote while at Wired to see if they have lifted material.”

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Update: Jonah Lehrer Apologizes, New Yorker Adds another Editor’s Note, WIRED Reviewing his Work

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