Johann Hari and plagiarism: What implications for journalism?

This article first appeared here in The Commentator

Journalist Johann Hari

Johann Hari - in hot water?

When does journalism cross the line into plagiarism? The author William Ralph Inge, in a pleasingly-modern, under 140-character missive, once wrote: “Originality is undetected plagiarism”.

When it comes to writing, who’s to say that an apparently-sparkling turn of phrase is not simply the cleverly-worded, and wholly acceptable, culmination of all other ideas to which we’ve been witness thus far?

Enter Johann Hari (left), Independent columnist, darling of the Left and Orwell Prize winner extraordinaire, whose views on everything from the IMF to why Republicanism is Britain’s only sensible option frequently light up the Twittersphere with their biting assessments.

This week, however, the micro-blogging phenomenon has once again proven that where Twitterers go, the news can only follow – and at the centre of the latest gathering storm, Hari himself, unwitting subject of the mighty hashtag, #interviewswithHari.

At lunchtime, it started trending. And then, as is Twitter trends’ wont, all hell broke loose.

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Unpaid internships: An ideal world?

Keri Hudson's victory...the first step on the road to an ideal world?

Keri Hudson's victory...the first step on the road to an ideal world?

The news that an unpaid intern has forced her former ‘employers’ to pay for six weeks’ work has been hailed by some as a ‘court victory’. It seems, at first glance, to point to a new era of would-be interns fighting back against employers who take them for granted and who make them work without pay or prospects. It seems like the step in the right direction, towards a fairer society. But, although that all sounds wonderful in principle, in reality the entire affair actually makes me feel more than a little uneasy.

The successfully-sued company, review website My, allegedly broke the contract agreed with its intern, Keri Hudson, and expected her to manage interns, while working all day on the firm’s website without training or, so it has been reported, ‘the expected pay’, for six weeks. And while her tenacity at standing up for herself in a situation she deems unfair is admirable, the victory she has apparently scored in taking her former employer to account may, in fact, not be quite so triumphant for the rest of us.

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