Fareed Zakaria says many journalists don’t attribute quotations

The Atlantic
After Fareed Zakaria apologized last week for plagiarizing a couple of passages from a New Yorker article, reporters reminded Jeffrey Goldberg of an incident in 2009 in which Zakaria had used quotations from two of Goldberg’s stories without noting their source. Zakaria has now responded to Goldberg, arguing that what he did is common:

I think it is quite untrue that it is standard journalistic practice to name the interviewer when quoting from an interview. Look through the New Yorker, the New York Times, or any other prestigious publication and you will see that most quotes from interviews do NOT mention the name of the interviewer. This is a subject close to my heart since I interview people every Sunday. On Monday, we get clips of the papers, magazines, and blogs that quote from these interviews. Most do not mention my name. Many do not even mention CNN. They simply say, “In an interview, “Mr. X said. . .”  I wish they did but they don’t.”

… I would welcome a new journalistic norm that insists that the interviewer always be named. But it’s unfair to castigate me for doing something that is common, if not standard, practice.

Goldberg says he doesn’t think such non-attribution is as common as Zakaria maintains. As for whether it’s a journalistic sin, Reuters Jack Shafer agrees with Goldberg:

Journalistic works come with an implied warrant that the words are original and reported by the writer, unless otherwise indicated … Quote-stealing, story-stealing, used to be okay, but now we demand higher-quality information, and one of the hallmarks of higher-quality information is provenance.

Related: Fareed Zakaria: ‘People are piling on with every grudge or vendetta’ (Poynter) | Should Time and CNN sentence Zakaria to aggregation duty? (The Atlantic)

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  • Anonymous

    Maybe in Mr. Zakaria’s rarified circles many journalists don’t attribute quotations, but for the rest of us, such a practice is a huge breach of ethics on a number of fronts.

    The reasons: 1. The reporter doesn’t know if the quote is accurate
    because the reporter isn’t double-checking with the person being
    quoted. In journalism, reporters MUST use original sources, not
    sources. 2. It’s theft. 3. The rule that real journalism follows is
    that everything in the story must be verified. Period. Otherwise,
    it’s just sloppy space-filling — maybe a form of entertainment.

    Journalists are after fact-based truth not “Gee, I HOPE this is true”

    If this is truly Mr. Zakaria’s approach, he cannot call himself a
    journalist — a chief executive, maybe, an entertainer, maybe, not a journalist. And if this
    has always been his attitude, perhaps he never should have been called a

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Zakaria said:
    “I think it is quite untrue that it is standard journalistic practice to name the interviewer when quoting from an interview.”

    Mr. Myers said:

    Poynter “standing for journalism, strengthening democracy”
    Nobody at Poynter seems to be standing for journalism on this issue.
    I’m not sure why Mr. Zakaria gets a pass. I wonder if it’s because he is a star and a beltway insider.
    Mr. Myers had not problem vilifying monologist Mike Daisey about his supposed transgression of journalistic standards when he stretched the truth about conditions at Chinese factories manufacturing Apple products.

  • Anonymous

    In the 2008 hardcover, page 40, footnote 11 does double service, for Friedman and for Prestowitz.
    However, since there are only 12 footnotes for the chapter, there is no excuse for failure to see the reference to Prestowitz.
    I went to the library to get the 2008 hardcover just in case there was something odd about the citation, but it is easy to see.
    There is just no way that The Washington Post should have made this error.
    Apparently at the paper the editors have not heard of 24-hour Google Advanced search, because they still have not corrected the story.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    This charge is false, as 10 minutes’ work by the Washington Post would have shown.
    The 2009 paperback does contain a citation to Prestowitz: footnote 11, page 262. We photocopied the page this very afternoon at the DC Public Library’s central branch: I’m hoping the PDF below is legible. We couldn’t locate a physical copy of the 2008 hardcover edition in time, but Amazon’s “look inside” feature shows Prestowitz there in hardcover too, also in footnote 11, page 262.
    (David Frum: The Daily Beast)

  • Anonymous


    questions raised about Fareed Zakaria’s work

    TV host and columnist defends practice of using other writer’s
    material without attribution. Paul Farhi, The Washington
    Post AUG 13

  • Anonymous

    A False Charge Against Fareed Zakaria
    by David Frum Aug 14, 2012 6:43 PM EDT
    (The Daily Beast)
    On Clyde Prestowitz.