ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
Plagiarism is one of the most severe accusations that can be leveled at a journalist, and that is the charge being made about the work of former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson. The allegations center on Abramson's new book. It's called "Merchants Of Truth: The Business Of News And The Fight For The Facts." In a Twitter thread, Vice News reporter Michael Moynihan focused on three chapters Abramson wrote about Vice. Moynihan highlighted language that bears a striking resemblance to passages written for other publications.
Abramson sat down with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Michel Martin this afternoon to talk about her book and respond to the charges.
JILL ABRAMSON: Accuracy and devotion to the truth are so important to me. And I take all of these allegations of inaccuracy and plagiarism very seriously. When I found the allegations have merit, I moved very quickly to correct everything.
SHAPIRO: Abramson noted that the passages being questioned are about Vice News and conceded that they do raise questions.
ABRAMSON: I have looked at them. And in several of these cases, the language is too close for comfort and should have been specifically cited in the footnotes correctly - I'll explain to you why they weren't - or put in quotations in the book. And what is the problem here is that though I did cite these publications and tried to credit everybody perfectly, you know, I fell short. And in the cases that Michael Moynihan cited, there isn't the correct, like, page number for the credited citation. And I'm going to fix those pronto.
MICHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: Well, I think one question might be, why did these errors happen to begin with, I mean, given that the subject of your book is about the difficulty and the cost of producing high-quality journalism in a current moment that highly prizes speed sometimes over accuracy? I mean, this is a book. And the timetable presumably...
ABRAMSON: Yeah, I was...
MARTIN: ...Was your own. So what's the issue here?
ABRAMSON: Well, the issue here is it's a 500-page book, and these are a few problems in it. You know, this is all factual material in these quotes. It isn't original ideas or analysis. And somehow in what I was working off of, these particular fact sets weren't highlighted as being from one of these sources even though I'm completely transparent about the fact I relied on these sources. And I credit them.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
That's Jill Abramson talking about her new book "Merchants Of Truth" with our colleague Michel Martin. Their full interview will air on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED on Saturday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.