Thursday, August 23, 2012

Zakaria plagiarism time-management lesson: "Other things will have to go away"

From a New York Times report on the plagiarism charges against Time & CNN correspondent Fareed Zakaria ("A Media Personality, Suffering a Blow to His Image, Ponders a Lesson"):

Mr. Zakaria’s career suffered an abrupt setback recently after bloggers discovered that his column of Aug. 20 for Time magazine had passages lifted almost entirely from an article by the historian Jill Lepore that appeared in The New Yorker in April.

Mr. Zakaria quickly apologized. But within minutes, Time had suspended him for a month and CNN, which had posted parts of the column on its Web site, removed the article and suspended him until further notice. Both began investigations of his work, as did The Post.

On Thursday afternoon, Time and CNN said they had completed their reviews, found no evidence of plagiarism and restored Mr. Zakaria to his demanding schedule. Just as quickly as his employers had questioned his credibility, they rallied around him....

In an interview on Friday in his CNN office, Mr. Zakaria again apologized for what he had called “a terrible mistake.”

“This week has been very important because it has made me realize what is at the core of what I want to do,” Mr. Zakaria said. He said he wanted to “help people to think about this fast-moving world and do this through my work on TV and writing.”

He added: “Other things will have to go away. There’s got to be some stripping down.”

There's a section in the Mistake Bank book (currently in development) about the tendency of time pressure to create mistakes. The temptation for Zakaria to "make hay while the sun shines" needs to be measured against the cost of a significant mistake such as this one.

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