Hari: act of contrition for the weekend

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post here about the Independent writer Johann Hari which made a mistake. Time to rectify that.

Two days ago, Hari handed back his Orwell Prize and published a long and somewhat weaselly mea culpa in The Independent. (Readers new to this saga start here). Hari’s confession included confirmation that he had gone to considerable lengths to boost his friends and smear his enemies on Wikipedia under an assumed identity. The full extent of his lifting material to embroider his interviews is also now clear (see the critical comments at the foot here).

I didn’t condone Hari’s actions in my premature post. But I did argue that George Orwell would have taken the view that ridicule and revelation were enough, and that Hari needn’t have been stripped of the prize. That judgement looks particularly foolish in the light of what we now know; it was silly as it was. As Bagehot of The Economist pithily says, this isn’t a matter of training and teaching but a more basic one of character and integrity.

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4 comments

  1. I’m not quite sure how he’s managed to so openly “get away” with this either – in his apology he even tries to put it down to experience and the fact if he had asked colleagues at The Independent then they would have informed him what he was doing was wrong. Why if we take his apology at face value did he never think to do this, or at the very least did he never stop and think himself that this could be seen as plagiarism? The mind boggles.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. He is still trying to justify himself, and clearly doesn’t really accept that what he did was wrong.

  3. I think you do yourself and injustice. Your previous post arguing that George Orwell would have found Johann Hari#s conduct funny is pretty much the line at City University’s journalism school.

    Many people – and certainly myself – have been as shocked by the attitudes of those such as yourself, Roy Greenslade, Polly Toynbee and Peter Kelner, as they have been over Johann’s conduct.

    I suspect that it was a Russian billionaire who said his paper should not shrug off blatant dishonesty in the manner you suggested.

    What does that say about British journalism, and those who purport to set its standards?

  4. George

    You should not be so contrite. Hari was very plausible and argued with the intelligence which won him a double first at Kings, Cambridge. Now, he admits, that he was on such a fast track that he did not learn about JOURNAlISM. He says he now wants to do a journalism course.

    Whatt better place than City.

    Bob Jones