Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Recycling For Columnists...And For Pulitzers?

For those of you not keeping up with the inner workings of the print media, newspaper readership is declining. There are many reasons, readership has been slipping since 1970 or so and is accelerating. Even the New York Times has seen a dramatic drop in readership and advertising revenue, to the point where the Board of the company that owns the NYT is pushing to pull the paper out of the ink-stained hands of the Sulzburger family, who own the majority of the voting shares of the company.

Bob Herbert is an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, with an axe to grind and, apparently, an affinity for cutting and pasting his own material. The repetition finally got to Nancy Kruh of the Dallas Morning News, who fired up Lexis/Nexis and rather convincingly shows Herbert to be not only obsessed about a few points, but apparently so dedicated an occupant of his own echo chamber that the voices in his head that tell him what to write are actually his own voices. Evan Coyne Maloney at his blog Brain Terminal has even gone so far as to generate an Automatic Bob Herbert script that will assemble a Bob Herbert column with the click of a button. I guess you can add "Opinion Columnist" to "Elevator Operator" and "Buggy-Whip Manufacturer" to the list of jobs now extinct due to technology.

Herbert's recycling is at least a step up from Jayson Blair, the ex-NYT reporter that cut and pasted the work of others or simply made things up when necessary. It's arguable that it's not plagarism when you're cribbing from yourself. It's possibly better than Dana Priest apparently recycling a 2002 story about CIA prisoners into a 2005 Pulitzer Prize. The 2002 story was a group effort by Washington Post staffers and has a more positive tone, the 2005 version is considerably less WH-friendly despite covering essentially the same ground. Read the post and make up your own mind.

1 comment:

Paul A. said...

I'll agree with you on that one, Darren. Herbert is just awful, and the NYT actually wants to make us online readers pay for the likes of him and Krugman? Sure, Friedman's good, and I love Brooks, but yuck. No thanks.