The author of a recent book about how creativity works is finding out the hard way that the answer is more elusive than he imagined.
Jonah Lehrer, one of science journalism’s brightest young stars, was accused of self-plagiarism on Tuesday after critics revealed that he had reused parts of old stories he wrote for other publications in blog posts for The New Yorker. So far, the magazine has appended an editors’ note to the top of six of Lehrer’s eight posts for its website, noting where else the copy had appeared and expressing “regret [for] the duplication of material.”
Lehrer, 31, didn’t respond to emails seeking comment, but “he understands he made a mistake, he’s apologetic, and it won’t happen again,” said The New Yorker’s Nicholas Thompson, who made a splash when he left features editing in March to manage and expand the magazine’s website.
New Yorker editors other than Thompson declined to comment on the matter. But so far, it seems that Lehrer’s status there hasn’t changed. “We’re not happy. It won’t happen again,” Thompson told Jim Romenesko who first spotted the problem and broke the story.
It was only two weeks ago that Lehrer, who has been writing for The New Yorker’s print edition since 2008, announced that he had accepted a staff writer position there and that he was bringing along his blog, Frontal Cortex, from fellow Condé Nast title Wired. All five of the posts that he’s written since then, and one that he wrote for NewYorker.com in 2011, contain recycled text.