Jonah Lehrer: Management problem?

More on the Jonah Lehrer due-diligence front: Romenesko reports that Wired magazine is reviewing 300 blog posts that Lehrer wrote for it. The idea is to see whether Lehrer did with those posts what he did with a series of posts for the New Yorker’s “Frontal Cortex” blog. That is, take material from previous writings and present it as fresh stuff.

The New Yorker, meanwhile, has decided not to “exile” Lehrer from the magazine, according to this MarketWatch story. It quotes New Yorker editor David Remnick: “There are all kinds of crimes and misdemeanors in this business, and if he were making things up or appropriating other people’s work that’s one level of crime.”

The decision not to bail on Lehrer is a tough one that leads to others. For starters:

* When Lehrer turns in his next piece, do you pump every single sentence into Google or special software to see if he’s written the same sentence before?

* Do you do such a thing for other folks’ submissions?

* If you do that for Lehrer’s pieces, how long do you keep it up? In perpetuity?

* What about training and guidebook stuff? Do you issue a raft of statements and memos about me-cycling (term courtesy of @alexremington) and the like?

* What other misdemeanor literary requirements could your contributors and staffers possibly be violating?

* And is “Frontal Cortex” too cerebral a blog title for a guy who didn’t even know or care not to republish old copy?

The New Yorker declined to comment on internal “process” considerations such as these.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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