Friday, January 20, 2012

I'm just wild about Hari

Well, not wild exactly, but I do think that Johann Hari's resignation from the Independent was the right outcome.

As I said in July of last year when the scandal broke:
He has always seemed to me more of an academic essayist than a journalist. A good example are his slightly irritating appearances on The Review Show, where new film or novel has to be compared with three others to make sense of it. 
So it was no great surprise to me that he should turn out to be more at home copying passages out of his interviewees' books than taking notes of what they say.
The sanest summing up of the affair I have read was posted by Splintered Sunrise in the same month - I included it in a Six of the Best at the time - who emphasised that Simon Kelner, the newspaper's former editor, must take a share of the blame.

It is worth reading the whole post, but this is the key passage:
Again and again, we come back to Kelner. He hired a raw young star about whom doubts had already been expressed at the New Statesman, and relentlessly promoted and protected him. 
Hari didn’t get the firm editorial hand a young journalist needs; his columns don’t seem to have been subjected to fact-checking or serious editing (comparing Hari’s columns on the Indy site with his own site, one sees that Indy editorial broke up his long paragraphs and corrected a few obvious howlers, but little else); he clearly was never given the training or mentoring he needed (and if Hari thought he didn’t need training, Kelner should have insisted) 
Hari was given plenty of resources – one hears stories of Indy interns doing mountains of photocopying that would then be couriered over to the great man (couriered, I ask you, as if he was Peter fucking Mandelson) – but didn’t give him what he really needed, a guiding hand.

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