Play it again, Johann

C J Schuler

16 Johann Hari pic 423759s 300x225 Play it again, JohannI see my colleague Johann Hari has been the subject of a Twitter campaign accusing him of plagiarism on the grounds that quotes he attributed to people he interviewed could be found in almost form in earlier interviews, or in their published work. Johann, I’m sure, is perfectly capable of defending himself, but anyone who has ever actually conducted interviews or attended discussion will surely smell a rat.

Unless they are deliberately malicious, the accusations on Twitter are extraordinarily naive. I have interviewed many writers, chaired literary discussions, organised countless speaker events and attended more literary festivals than I can remember. I have heard the same writers discuss their work on several separate occasion and, do you know what, they tend to say the same things they have said before. Often in almost exactly the same form of words.

Is that surprising? Hardly. Don’t we all have our conversational tropes, our party pieces, which we trot out time and again? If you’ve got a good riff, play it again…

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  • peterthepoofter

    Yes but he’s never going to conduct another interview for the Indy ever again now, is he?

  • michaelwallacereid

    as a gay man who only buys the Indie on Saturday, with freebies on
    infrequent train trips, I do read responses to Mr. Hari’s to articles
    from the previous week. They are usually negative.

    back to the original paper (15 years ago) he did appear to have an
    independent voice; recently the ’star’ column may have got to his

    I have no connection to the media I am aware that agendas may be
    persuaded on the opinion pages, while facts are stated outside of the
    op-ed features. On this basis I do believe that Mr. Hari has misled.
    The paper must consider, carefully, if they can retain creditability
    when they continue to employ somebody who has lifted the work (and
    intellect) of fellow journalists in his own pursuit of personal


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