How should publications deal with plagiarists?

# When Hindustan Times editor V.N. Narayanan was found to have flicked 10 paragraphs and 1,023 words, verbatim, from a Bryan Appleyard column in The Sunday Times, London, he was sent away without the paper explaining to the reader why he was sacked. Narayanan dutifully popped up as the head of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s journalism school in Bangalore.

# When Nikhat Kazmi, the film reviewer of The Times of India, was revealed to have filched whole sentences and paragraphs from Roger Ebert‘s review of Shark Tale in the Chicago Sun-Times, the old lady of Boribunder barely looked askance and her “reviews” continue to appear to this day.

# The Hindu‘s Gautam Bhaskaran has similarly been caught with his pants down.

How should newspapers and magazines deal with imagination-starved staffers who steal the most vital commodity of our business—words?

Should they be banished without a second thought? If so, for how long? Should they be given time off to get their bearings in order (like Jayson Blair)? Should the publication tell the world what has happened? Should other publications ever hire them again?

What is the right punishment for the crime?

On Slate, Jack Shafer writes on Michael Finkel, the New York Times journalist who was caught for some major inconsistencies in a 2002 piece on the life and work conditions of a young laborer on an Ivory Coast cocoa plantation, and who has just written the cover story for the July 2007 issue of National Geographic.

“Not many publications force journalists to pay their debts to their profession and their readers. Often, they don’t even send the bill…

“If I had the constitution of a hanging judge, which I don’t, I’d have sent Finkel directly to the gallows for his lies. He deliberately wrote things that were not true and called the work journalism. If that doesn’t constitute a professional death wish, I don’t know what does.”

Read the full story: The return of Michael Finkel


  1. BB

    A request to please have a write up here on how should journalist deal with PR people?

  2. Truth Is

    Jugaad Kings of ENDIA

  3. Should a journalist as experienced as FZ write a column by excessive resort to what a researcher might possibly have given him and do the cut-and-past job himself with minor modifications? One thought words came directly out of a seasoned journalist’s mind, and have flown onto his column. Or, that was how good columnists were known to have written their pieces, except that they checked here and there for a reference to a year or date. Those were the days …. and these are the days of self-serving frauds… largely. FZ, though, was known to be a great exception to the fake currencies floating around in the media; one who worked his way up by sheer dent of commitment and perseverance. Ever wondered why the print media is taking a ride downhill?

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