Malcolm Gladwell failure isn’t plagiarism

Updated: December 12, 2014
Malcolm Gladwell failure isn't plagiarism

Malcolm Gladwell accused of plagiarism, Twitter users @blippoblappo and @crushingbort, the pair that leveled plagiarism accusations against Buzzfeed’s Benny Johnson and CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, have set their sights on a new high-profile target: Malcolm Gladwell.

In a new report, the authors allege three examples of plagiarism, including a 2010 article that uses text and information from Miles Wolff’s 1970 book, “Lunch at the Five and Ten.”

In an email to Poynter’s Andrew Beaujon, New Yorker editor David Remnick said that while the magazine should have cited Wolff’s book, Gladwell was not guilty of plagiarism:

The issue is an ongoing editorial challenge known to writers and editors everywhere — to what extent should a piece of journalism, which doesn’t have the apparatus of academic footnotes, credit secondary sources? It’s an issue that can get complicated when there are many sources with overlapping information. There are cases where the details of an episode have passed into history and are widespread in the literature. There are cases that involve a unique source. We try to make judgments about source attribution with fairness and in good faith. But we don’t always get it right. In retrospect, for example, we should have credited Miles Wolff’s 1970 book about Greensboro, because it’s central to our understanding of those events. We sometimes fall short, but our hope is always to give readers and sources the consideration they deserve.