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Another Bullet in the Old Gray Lady’s Ass

A New York Times story helps itself to two lines from a Miami Herald piece. – By Jack Shafer – Slate Magazine

I discovered the plagiarism while considering the Times article as a candidate for my “Stupidest Drug Story of Week” series. The unsourced assertion that paco was highly addictive because its high is short-acting struck me as suspicious nonsense. Plenty of drugs are short-acting without being highly addictive. A few Nexis stops later, I found the Herald piece.

Times Managing Editor Jill Abramson says that the piece’s author, Alexei Barrionuevo, concedes that he lifted the two passages. Barrionuevo had been working on the paco story for a couple of weeks and realized at the end of the process that he needed definitional passages about the drug to distinguish it from crack cocaine. She says that instead of consulting his notes, which he claims contained the information, he relied on Google. Indeed, a copy of the Herald story can be found via Google.

Excuse me, but if this clown was working on the story for “a couple of weeks,” shouldn’t he have actually spoken to at least one junkie that could have provided him with a quote about the drug’s effect, and its high consumption requirement?

Is this a variation of Jason Blair reporting going on, once again, at “the newspaper of record,” that tells the desired story, but avoids the reporting?

via Insty, who notes on the plagiarism charge: “It’s real, but it seems pretty small-bore to me.”

Wrong, BlenderBoy. If the ‘layers’ of editors and fact-checkers never asked this reporter where, exactly, he came up with those numerically defined hits that provided a needed leg for his story to stand upon, it shows that nobody cared about a basic assertion of the entire story’s premise… he cut, pasted and twinked it to earn his byline, and no one even blinked.

(with snark not-quite fully in place), I gotta wonder: did his ethnic makeup give him, a la Jason Blair, immunity to scrutiny in the name of promoting diversity?

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