Lifestyle & Belief

New Yorker editor David Remnick says the mag won't fire Jonah Lehrer


NEW YORK, NY - May 29: Science writer and contributer to Radio Lab, Jonah Lehrer attends the "You and Your Irrational Brain" panel discussion at Water Taxi Beach in Long Island City in conjunction with the World Science Festival on May 29, 2008 in New York City.


Thos Robinson

Jonah Lehrer, the New Yorker writer who was accused of recycling his own content, will not be dismissed from the magazine, editor Dave Remnick told MarketWatch's Jon Friedman.

“There are all kinds of crimes and misdemeanors in this business, and if he were making things up or appropriating other people’s work that’s one level of crime," Remnick told Friedman over the phone Wednesday afternoon.

"I am amazed that Remnick, just about the most demanding editor I know, has taken this stance," Friedman wrote, pointing out that Remnick has a reputation for high professional standards and firm ethics. "I thought he’d send Lehrer to the gallows." 

More from GlobalPost: New Yorker writer Jonah Lehrer accused of recycling old material (UPDATED)

Media blogger Jim Romenesko first broke the story Tuesday, when he pointed out that Lehrer's June 12 post on his New Yorker blog "Frontal Cortex" included three paragraphs from a piece of his that appeared in the in The Wall Street Journal last October, the Wrap reported

A slew of other bloggers soon found several other instances of self-duplication from Lehrer’s earlier writing for Wired, the New York Times Magazine, and other publications, the New York Times reported.

The New Yorker has since flagged the recycled posts with notes that conclude "“We regret duplication of material," according to the Times. 

“It was a stupid thing to do and incredibly lazy and absolutely wrong,” Lehrer said in an interview with the New York Times.

Meanwhile, Lehrer's former employers are carefully combing his work.  

“We’re going to work with him to identify which stories are affected,” said Wired spokesman Jonathan Hammond, Women's Wear Daily blogger Erik Maza reported. The magazine, where Lehrer originally published "Frontal Cortex" before it was lifted by the Times, is currently reviewing the 300 posts Lehrer wrote while there, according to WWD

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Lehrer's publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, also issued a statement in regards to his book “Imagine," the Times reported. 

“Jonah Lehrer fully acknowledges that ‘Imagine’ draws upon work he has published in shorter form during the past several years and is sorry that was not made clear,” the statement said. “He owns the rights to the relevant articles, so no permission was needed. He will add language to the acknowledgments noting his prior work.”

Though many have denounced Lehrer's actions, Malcolm Gladwell stepped into the ring to defend his fellow science writer, WWD reported.

"The conventions surrounding what is and is not acceptable in magazine writing, books and speaking have been worked out over the past 100 years. The conventions over blogging are being worked out as we speak," said Malcolm Gladwell. "Everyone who writes for a living is going to learn from this. I'm just sorry Jonah had to bear the brunt of it."  

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Gordon Mazur, the agent who arranges Lehrer's speaking engagements, seemed unperturbed by the news, WWD reported.

“Self-plagiarization is…I don’t even know what it is,” Mazur said. “Where does that fall in the level of crimes?”

Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple argues that Lehrer's actions require new wording altogether. 

"Enough with 'self-plagiarism,'" wrote Wemple. "Plagiarism means taking someone else’s work and representing it as your own. Lehrer took his own work and presented it as his own (fresh) work. That’s bad, but it’s not so bad that it should be described with any variant of the term 'plagiarism.' Journalism is a field of wordsmiths. Can we not come up with a better term for this literary transgression? Recycliarism?" 

[View the story "Jonah Lehrer's 'self-publishing': What do you think? " on Storify]