in journalism, Uncategorized

Journalist Johann Hari Apologizes for Misrepresenting Interviews

I was actually an admirer of the works of Johann Hari before I read his mea culpa today in the Independent:

When I recorded and typed up any conversation, I found something odd: points that sounded perfectly clear when you heard them being spoken often don’t translate to the page. They can be quite confusing and unclear. When this happened, if the interviewee had made a similar point in their writing (or, much more rarely, when they were speaking to somebody else), I would use those words instead. At the time, I justified this to myself by saying I was giving the clearest possible representation of what the interviewee thought, in their most considered and clear words.But I was wrong.

I didn’t have much background into the situation, but Jeff Bercovici provides it, along with some stinging commentary:

No, Johann, it’s arrogant and stupid of you to think anyone you’re not related to by blood is going to buy this. Journalism is filled with people who rose fast and/or received not formal training. Most of us (I’m in the latter category) never had to be told you can’t steal quotes. You’re smarter than most. You knew this. Until you admit it, you’ll never have a chance of regaining your credibility.