Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson has vowed to review passages in her book Merchants of Truth—published this week in the UK by Bodley Head—following claims of plagiarism. US publisher Simon & Schuster has said it stands "ready to work with the author" in making revisions if further examination shows changes are necessary.
Merchants of Truth, which goes behind the scenes at the New York Times and the Washington Post alongside websites Buzzfeed and Vice, was published by Bodley Head in the UK on February 7th.
But its US publisher Simon & Schuster, alongside Abramson herself, has already had to defend the book after a Vice correspondent accused the writer of lifting passages from other sources.
In a lengthy Twitter thread, Michael Moynihan listed a number of sections from the book’s chapters on Vice that appeared similar to sentences from other publications. He spotted likenesses to pieces from Time Out magazine, a master’s thesis, New Yorker articles and the Columbia Journalism Review, among others.
Others accused Abramson of making factual errors during the course of the book, although it has also been heavily praised by some other journalists.
After the claims were made, she denied plagiarism and tweeted she would review the relevant passages, insisting she had tried to properly attribute her sources. In a later statement, Abramson said her book had seven pages of footnotes and 100 source citations for the Vice chapters alone, including sources tweeted about by Moynihan.
She said: “The notes don’t match up with the right pages in a few cases and this was unintentional and will be promptly corrected. The language is too close in some cases and should have been cited as quotations in the text. This, too, will be fixed. I wouldn’t want even a misplaced comma so I will promptly fix these footnotes as I have corrected other material that Vice contested. The book is over 500 pages. All of the ideas in the book are original, all the opinions are mine. The passages in question involve facts that should have been perfectly cited in my footnotes and weren’t.”
Simon & Schuster said it was ready to make revisions for future editions if necessary. It said: “It has been published with an extraordinary degree of transparency toward its subjects; each of the four news organizations covered in the book was given ample time and opportunity to comment on the content, and where appropriate the author made changes and corrections. If upon further examination changes or attributions are deemed necessary we stand ready to work with the author in making those revisions.”
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