As if on cue, shortly after I write on plagiarism, the editor of one of India’s top weekly newsmagazines contributes his own example.
A few days ago this Slate profile of Rajinikanth, by Grady Hendrix, was floating around and attracting much interest, especially for the line “If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth.” Which, as a pictorial evocation, belongs up there with Matt Taibbi’s characterisation of Goldman Sachs as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity”.
Apparently India Today’s editor-in-chief, Aroon Purie, liked it too. He liked it so much that he decided to use it without attribution.
K P Salim (the author of the Countermedia article linked above) seems to think it “unfair” to blame Purie if the piece has been “ghost-written by some one in the desk as it is common practice in such publications.” First of all, I am interested to learn that editors of weekly magazines commonly have their editorials ghostwritten. Is it so hard to write a few dozen original words every week? But in any case, I don’t think that absolves him.
Update, Oct 13, 2010: The Hoot (a sort of media watchdog) notes this incident, and wonders — seriously, as far as I can tell — whether Aroon Purie is the victim. (Of a practical joke by one of his staffers.)
Also, India Today has done it before. The perpetrator (or victim of a joke?) was the deputy editor, Damayanti Datta. The original author, Niranjana Iyer, contacted both Ms Datta and the editor, Prabhu Chawla. Both of whom responded with silence. Perhaps it is embarrassing to admit that the office is filled with practical jokers.
Update, October 14: See India Today’s comment below.
Update, October 14: Niranjana’s response (also in the comments below) is a classic. One day perhaps people like the India Today editors will realise that, while the internet makes plagiarism easy, it also makes detecting plagiarism easy. And then your misdeeds are stored on the net for posterity. And a Google search on your name will find them.