“The Independent columnist’s award-winning work included pieces on a cruise with American rightwingers, a report on Saudi Arabia, multiculturalism and women, and another on France’s “secret war” in the Central African Republic. Johann Hari’s work combines courageous reporting and forceful writing with honest analysis,” said Orwell Prize judge Albert Scardino, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.” More…
“The Orwell Prize became aware of allegations concerning Johann Hari, the winner of the Orwell Prize for Journalism 2008, on Monday 27th June. (Johann Hari has also been shortlisted for the Prize in the past, and entered this year’s Prize.) Given the seriousness of the allegations that have been made, we feel we have no choice other than to investigate further.
The Council of the Orwell Prize takes the integrity and reputation of the Orwell Prize, and the rigour, fairness and transparency of the entry and judging process, very seriously. As stated on Tuesday 28th June, there is a process to follow in such situations, which we have been following since Monday and continue to pursue …
Since 2008 the entry process has been made more robust still. The governance of the Prize has been reformed, and all entrants are required to sign a disclaimer, declaring that the submitted work ‘is wholly or substantially that of the named author or authors, and does not contain any plagiarised or unacknowledged material.”
If they want a proper investigation then they should allow some open sourced scrutiny of the pieces. Seems to have worked so far…
As his ball and chain marched, Miliband went to Birmingham for the relative comfort of the Local Government Association conference this afternoon. Before telling them that both the strikers and the government were wrong, Red Ed demanded his own private green room, kitted out with tea, coffee, biscuits and juice for his seven strong entourage. Guido’s LGA eyes and ears also chuckled at the security guard outside the room. When the Prime Minister went up to speak to the conference on Tuesday he shared a green room with the other speakers, as have all the other cabinet ministers who dropped by. Nothing’s too good for the workers.
UPDATE: Team Ed got in touch to argue Pickles was in the same room. Team Pickles say he only went in to watch Ed’s speech on the telly after he had vacated. Take it outside lads…
There is one group of public sector workers with gold plated pensions who don’t seem to be suffering. If “we are all in it together” maybe the government should take a look at their pension entitlements, which will make private sector workers drool with envy. Compare these two average pensions within the public sector; after a career of risking his life for his country a soldier gets a £7,987 pension, after a life of wind-baggery combined with drinking in subsidised bars and fiddling expenses the average MP gets a £21,364 pension. If they become Ministers the sky is the limit. Multi-millionaire John Prescott’s pension pot has £1.5 million in it. Gold plating at an unaffordable level.
For those in the private sector who had their pensions disastrously raided by Gordon Brown, wrecking Britain’s private pension system, today’s strikes might leave them wondering if they should have gone on strike in protest at his 1997 stealth tax raid. Taxes that Gordon used to splurge on the now striking public sector. Small businesses don’t go on strike, usually owner-run or family businesses, staffed by people who are friends and family, who would they strike against? Today is the last day of the month, many small business owners will be struggling to making enough money to cover the payroll, totting up the VAT they collect for the government and the taxes they have to pay for merely employing people. Imagine if they, the taxpaying backbone of the economy, went on a taxpayers’ strike. It could lead to great changes…
Guido has wondered in the past what exactly Alison McGovern does as Gordon Brown’s PPS. He never turns up or speaks, so why the dubious honour? Given McGovern is pregnant, speculation is mounting as to who will fill in for her when she goes on maternity leave.
If she’s not replaced then questions will arise about her onerous and demanding role.
Backbenchers should form an orderly queue to make their pitch for the job.
The Indy have a hilarious Comres poll in which 2,000 voters were shown pictures of various members of the Shadow Cabinet. Unsurprisingly the majority of the bland B-team were not recognised, but most damning is the facet that one in four people identified Ed as David. You might wonder what exactly he has been doing since September…
Guido is fairly sure Johann Hari has breached Article 1 of the PCC Code. He has admitted misleading his readers. Despite the desperate attempts by his editor, Simon Kelner, to spin that his favorite son is being attacked for political reasons, the Hari-wagon is coming off of the tracks.
The Telegraph are coming down on him heavily. Firstly there is Brenden O’Neil rightly pointing out that “the notion that one can reach “the truth” by manipulating reality should be anathema to anyone who calls himself a journalist.” Janet Daley weighs in with a valid arguement:
“Many, if not most, of his interviewees were people whom he admired and whose political views he shared. By replacing what he admits were often their less-than-articulate responses to live questions with text from their published works, he was performing a service to their reputations which was worthy of a spin doctor or a professional propagandist.”
Toby Young points us to the career ending decision:
“His fate now turns on whether the committee that awarded him the Orwell Prize for Journalism asks him to return the prize (and the £3,000 prize money). It is hard to see how they could do otherwise, given that Hari still doesn’t seem to think his cut-and-paste habits are anything to be ashamed of.”
And in a slap to Kelner’s face and reputation, this issue goes beyond any left or right divide. The New Statesman is being particularly thorough in making sure the golden child of the left is held to the level of accountability that his platform and reputation deserve. The most damning revelation of the day so far comes from the Staggers, who reveal that Hari directly lifted other peoples work for an “interview” he did with Chavez in 2006. The dictionary definition of plagiarism.
Meanwhile The Guardian have provided a helpful poll on whether you think Hari’s apology was enough, needless to say it’s not looking good for him. Guido is digging around rumours of Hari being fired from his student paper for “making things up in order to make a story stronger”. He also bought you two more accusations of plagiarism earlier and Forbes have compiled cases of Hari getting his facts completely wrong, deliberately perhaps. Hilariously historian Guy Walters has found Hari lifted text Ann Leslie’s biography for his own interview with her. No wonder she said he wasn’t “a real journalist” on Newsnight last night. Brian Whelan, who triggered this onslaught has found another smoking gun.
Right now hundreds of articles by the disgraced bard are being scrutinised, fact-checked, cross-referenced and flagged up. You shake one branch….
Roy Greenslade reveals in his Standard column today that the Sunday Times’ lawyers have declared that there are no legal grounds for appealing the court order demanding that they hand over of their Pryce/Huhne tape and documentation to Essex Police. The hour is getting late Chris. Time to reach for your simple sword of truth and that trusty shield of British fair play.
Ultra-Brownite loyalist Kirsty McNeill has finally jumped ship from the tax-saving operation that is The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown. The author of those tractor-stat speeches and stage manager of the cling to power, was brought in during those dark autumn days of 2009 when the Prime Mentalist was cracking under the pressure. She apparently told friends that she wanted to stay on until Gordon’s reputation has been restored after the election defeat. It seems she has got bored of waiting for hell to freeze over though…
Labour sources suggest that the OGSB has been very quiet in recently. With Brown’s PPS pregnant, and now his gatekeeper on the run, perhaps now would be an ideal time for the man himself to move on…
Given the last Labour government went out of their way to hit pubs and clubs with regulations, duties and, worst of all, the smoking ban, it’s no surprise to see their actions come back to bite them. CR Consulting have found that Labour constituencies are being disproportionately hit by the pub closures. Though Tory held Westminster suffered the most closures, nine out of the top ten worst hit seats were Labour:
Cities of London and Westminster, Con -99 pubs
Birmingham, Ladywood, Lab -56 pubs
Glasgow Central, Lab -56 pubs
Manchester Central, Lab -49 pubs
Liverpool, Riverside, Lab -45 pubs
Bristol West, LD -39 pubs
Leeds Central, Lab -38 pubs
Edinburgh North and Leith, Lab -34 pubs
Argyll and Bute, LD -32 pubs
Nottingham South, Lab -31 pubs
Guido will be supporting a cause that is very dear to his heart today, the campaign to Save our Pubs and Clubs as they hold a lobby of parliament this afternoon. Labour MPs might want to have a little think about the impact of their actions on their own constituencies…
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Jon Cruddas on Saturday told Compass lefties…
“The idea that you don’t move beyond Labour, that the party contains all the solutions and anything else is counted as betrayal, or is counter-productive, is a morbid symptom of our own decline and actually an obligation of our responsibilities to the country. Similarly a continuous preoccupation in members Ed and David who carries the flame or Ed and Yvette or Ed and Andy or Ed, Ed and Eddie is that Labour is not a top class PPE Oxbridge gig, the question is then, what is it for? 29 policy review groups won’t answer that question, indeed I would tentatively suggest that a couple of compass criticizing bedroom bloggers won’t necessarily answer supply the answers either. I applaud the Compass member’s decision to search out for new ideas and big inspirational political vitality aside of the confines of the parliamentary party whose culture resembles at times a Sopranos tribute band. I believe this change is essential.”
Having covered cancer and rape to get the PM on the back-foot, Guido is wondering what Ed will scrape from the bottom of the moral barrel this week. As Athens burns thanks to their unions, and the Labour leader suddenly wakes up to the fact that he is on the wrong side of public opinion regarding the strikes here, he’s going to have to pull something pretty special at noon. Famine? Floods? Sick puppies? If he has any sense he will go on the crime revelations in today’s Times. Burglary is up 18%.
Ed may have lost out on the sentencing debacle, failing to land a single blow and remarkably ending up as muddled as Ken Clarke, but all is not lost on the planned outflanking of the Tories on crime. As police budgets are slashed, crime is on the up. Look out for the third-party hitting the airwaves as soon as the PM sits down. If a plan works, stick to it…
UPDATE: Talking of Ed and strikes, Total Politics’ Amber Elliot reports that Grahame Morris, PPS to shadow climage change secretary Meg Hillier is “very close” to quitting over Ed’s stance on the strikes an “pandering to the right of the party.” Apparently they are trying to talk him out of going before midday. Is this what the brothers were expecting when they anointed Ed?
Last week Guido revealed that Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan might have had a hand in the awkward question to the Prime Minister, asking whether she would be sacked over her opposition to high-speed rail. Given the planned route practically goes through her garden, she is resisting the plans, in the face of collective responsibility. Well it looks like it’s her turn to twist a little at the despatch box.
Guido hears that a question lined up for Welsh Questions at 11.30 is along the lines of “what exactly will high-speed rail bring to Wales?” Given the next thing on the order paper is PMQs, Gillan will be sat next to Dave immediately after her grilling . Guido is sure they will have lots to say to each other…
Guido doesn’t usually quote articles verbatim, but since this isn’t online and in the interests of doing a full “intellectual portrait” here it is:
The Lessons I Must Draw From These Attacks On My Journalism
It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism, but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong and I wouldn’t do it again
Yesterday on Twitter I was accused of plagiarism. This accusation is totally false – but I have reflected seriously on this and do have something to apologise for. When you interview a writer – especially but not only when English isn’t their first language – they will sometimes make a point that sounds clear when you hear it, but turns out to be incomprehensible or confusing on the page. In those instances, I have sometimes substituted a passage they have written or said more clearly elsewhere on the same subject for what they said to me, so the reader understands their point as clearly as possible. The quotes are always accurate representations of their words, inserted into the interview at the point where they made substantively the same argument using similar but less clear language. I did not and never have taken words from another context and twisted them to mean something different – I only ever substituted clearer expressions of the same sentiment, so the reader knew what the subject thinks in the most comprehensible possible words.
I stress: I have only ever done this where the interviewee was making the same or similar point to me in the interview that they had already made more clearly in print. Where I described their body language, for example, I was describing their body language as they made the same point that I was quoting – I was simply using the clearer words from their writing so the reader understood the point best. This is one reason why none of my interviewees have, to my knowledge, ever said they were misquoted in my nearly 10 years with The Independent, even when they feel I’ve been very critical of them in other ways. My critics have focused on my interview with Gideon Levy as supposedly distorted. So what does Gideon Levy say? These are his words: “I stand behind everything that was published in the interview. It was a totally accurate representation of my thoughts and words.”
This does not fit any definition of plagiarism. Plagiarism is presenting somebody else’s intellectual work as your own – whereas I have always accurately attributed the ideas of (say) Gideon Levy to Gideon Levy. Nor can it be regarded as churnalism. Churnalism is a journalist taking a press release and mindlessly recycling it. It is not a journalist carefully reading over all a writer’s books and quoting it to best reflect how they think.
Over the years I have interviewed some people who have messages we desperately need to hear – from Gideon Levy about Israel, to Malalai Joya about Afghanistan, to Gerry Adams about how to end a sectarian war. Just this week, I interviewed one of the bravest people I have ever met – Shirin Ebadi. I would hate people to not hear these vital messages because they incorrectly think the subjects have been falsely quoted. Every word I have quoted has been said by my interviewee, and accurately represents their view. I hope people continue to hear their words.
When I’ve been wrong in the past – as I shamefully was over the Iraq War – I have admitted it publicly, tried to think through how I got it wrong, and corrected myself. So I’ve thought carefully about whether I have been wrong here. It’s clearly not plagiarism or churnalism – but was it an error in another way? Yes. I now see it was wrong, and I wouldn’t do it again.
Why? Because an interview is not just an essayistic representation of what a person thinks; it is a report on an encounter between the interviewer and the interviewee. If (for example) a person doesn’t speak very good English, or is simply unclear, it may be better to quote their slightly broken or garbled English than to quote their more precise written work, and let that speak for itself. It depends on whether you prefer the intellectual accuracy of describing their ideas in their most considered words, or the reportorial accuracy of describing their ideas in the words they used on that particular afternoon. Since my interviews are long intellectual profiles, not ones where I’m trying to ferret out a scoop or exclusive, I have, in the past, prioritised the former. That was, on reflection, a mistake, because it wasn’t clear to the reader.
I’m sorry, and I’m grateful to the people who pointed out this error of judgement. I will make sure I learn from it.
UPDATE: Noam Chomsky has accused Hari of fabricating quotes from him supposedly spoken in conversation, calling them a “flight of the Hari imagination”.
UPDATE II: Rowan Wilson alleges that contrary to the blended “intellectual portrait” / interview / fictional account of a meeting with Antonio Negri “that there was no taxi called, I didn’t say the things ascribed to me, Negri wasn’t behaving arrogantly as suggested, there was no angry confontation with ICA staff” all of which “casts serious doubt on the veracity of anything that Hari says.”
Guido thought he would pop along with a Guy News camera to record a rare appearance by Chris Huhne in public. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change was speaking to the FT’s Global Greeny Types Conference in the City. After seeing the cameraman and sitting in the car for a few minutes mulling it over, he finally made a run for it:
He marched off eventually to the hotel’s restaurant in the opposite direction to the conference – can’t think why. It has to be said that his estranged wife Vicky Pryce is much better at dealing with the questions. Not sure “I don’t know what you’re talking about” will cut the mustard with Essex Police…
Guido has just got off the phone with the Media Standards Trust, a charity “that fosters high standards in news on behalf of the public”. As sponsors of the Orwell Prize they funded the award to Johann Hari of the prestigous prize in 2008. Orwell is the giant of British political writing, the inventor of the Ministry of Truth and creator of Winston Smith who had the job of “rectifying” the past. Johann Hari has done far too much “rectifying” of quotes and facts to have the honour of holding a prize named after Orwell.
The Media Standards Trust tell Guido that procedure has to be followed, that the governance process for the Orwell Prize council involves worthies and due process has to be seen to be done. It is farcical for a charity that aims to foster the highest standards of political journalism, in the name and tradition of Orwell, to have as a recipient of their highest award a journalist who fakes interviews. George Orwell once wrote “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” Johann has been caught deceiving, it is time for them to act…
UPDATE: Guido just spoke on the phone with Hari (like a real journalist, not one who just pretends to interview the sources of his quotes) to ask him “Will you be giving back the Orwell Prize?”. He hesitated for a moment before saying “I have an article in the Independent tomorrow… thank you.” He then put the phone down…
Former Observer Political Editor Gaby Hinsliff tweets:
“i’m rarely shocked by stuff journalists do, but tbh this J Hari thing does it for me. quotes are sacrosanct. end of…
…tho can’t help thinking how much easier my job wd’ve been had i been doing, um ‘intellectual portraits’ rather than actually interviewing”[…] Read the rest