Comments on: How Jonah Lehrer should blog A slice of lime in the soda Sun, 26 Oct 2014 19:05:02 +0000 hourly 1 By: MJM0362 Fri, 22 Jun 2012 13:26:58 +0000 Given that far too many “major publications” pay nothing, zip, nada for blog posts, and far too many publications period pay nothing for op-ed columns and other written material, this dispute is absurd.

Journalism is insisting on professional behavior in an inherently unprofessional environment journalism itself created: the unpaid writer, the unpaid blogger, the unpaid columnist, the unpaid HuffPo contributor, and so forth.

While Mr. Lehrer may be one of the few lucky blokes receiving a paycheck for his blog contributions, he’s working in a long-established culture of people who receive no paycheck for same, and is putting to use the “you get what you pay for” tools of that trade.

Re-purposing previously published material from your own hand is one of those tools, unless you’ve previously sold away all rights to it (most writers retain these rights).

If journalism wants to stop plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and every variant on what is herein being deemed unprofessional copycat behavior, then journalism needs to do some serious soul searching in its own right.

If you want professional behavior, treat your people like professionals. First stop on that road: PAY YOUR WRITERS! ALL your writers — your bloggers, columnists, etc.

Author Harlan Ellison makes that case profoundly here: fE

Meanwhile, don’t whine when you get something unprofessional from a business environment — in this case, journo-blogging for major (and minor) publications — wherein far too many practitioners slave away with no pay.

By: petertemplar Thu, 21 Jun 2012 18:16:37 +0000 “Lehrer is a big-name journalist at a major publication”

That’s the big mystery in all of this.

By: FelixSalmon Thu, 21 Jun 2012 16:38:13 +0000 What @realist said. Also, Lehrer almost certainly signed a contract with TNY promising them “original” work.

By: realist50 Wed, 20 Jun 2012 22:28:27 +0000 @Blox – The situation with Lehrer is, to take one example, that he wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal last fall and then used the 3 introductory paragraphs from it, almost verbatim, in a blog post at I’m fairly certain that the WSJ owns the rights to the piece that he wrote for them, i.e., Lehrer has sold them this piece so he could not sell the exact same piece to another publication. (If I’m off on this point, I’ll ask for Felix or someone else familiar with these business arrangements to describe typical terms.) I suppose there’s a grey area in that Lehrer hasn’t sold anyone his ideas, only a particular work, so he could write similar pieces on the same topic.

That said, I assume that the underlying concern for the New Yorker is that it faces legal and reputational risk in sponsoring the digital publication of a piece owned by another publication. At a certain level, the situation is plagiarizing the WSJ, and the fact that Jonah Lehrer is the author of both pieces isn’t relevant.

By: Blox Wed, 20 Jun 2012 20:21:10 +0000 Self-plagiarism on a blog is not “fraud.” The ACS editors are talking about the submission of a manuscript to an academic journal for publication and distribution to a paying public, where the work has been previously published. That sort of submission carries with it the implied warranty that this is new is new work. In fact, submitting it as a manuscript, and not as a reprint, is a subterfuge designed to mislead the editors of the journal. Journal subscriptions are expensive, their space is limited, and subscribers have full access to back issues – so an author who submits work that has already been published is harming the journal and its subscribers while contributing nothing to the goal of scientific publication, which is the dissemination of knowledge to a sophisticated professional readership.

Furthermore, the reason an author would do this is to obtain another publication that he can put on his resume – in effect misleading potential employers and colleagues about his productivity and accomplishments.

The ACS editors call this “academic fraud,” and it is – but “academic fraud” is not all the same thing as “fraud,” which is a crime.

Your statement that Lehrer is guilty of the crime of of “fraud” by putting stuff that he wrote on a blog, where it is available for free, does not displace anyone else’s work, and makes his own product more widely available to casual readers who would otherwise have to search it out and pay for it is way over the top.

By: OnkelBob Wed, 20 Jun 2012 16:52:31 +0000 Irony aside, Is there some unwritten law defining the word limit for blogs? One of my daily blog visits is to a retired anthropology professor who posts 4 – 5 times a week, but only one on any given day. His writing is usually of substantial length and intellectual heft. I prefer heft to brevity.
On the topic of Lehrer, I believe if you go back to his blog on ScienceBlogs (formerly of Seed, now part of NatGeo, you’ll find his recycling habit goes further back than the current examples. While I cannot cite examples directly, for the most part SB archives are lost in the seas of magnetic ink; however, I recall saying to myself didn’t I see this before when reading his work. IMO, “na ja, es geht so,” but only because I never had that much respect for poseurs such as Gladwell and Lehrer. If you’re buying what they say, you paid too much.

By: Mitchn Wed, 20 Jun 2012 16:03:10 +0000 An 1,100-word piece on how to blog. Love the irony.