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)

  • Steve Myers

    Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens, a nonprofit investigative news site in New Orleans.


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