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The curious case of Jonah Lehrer

Jonah Lehrer at a panel discussion in May, 2008
Jonah Lehrer at a panel discussion in May, 2008
Thos Robinson/Getty Images

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Author and journalist Jonah Lehrer has resigned from his position as staff writer for The New Yorker amidst controversy surrounding the originality of his work.

In June, Lehrer apologized for recycling his own work in articles and his book, but the real shock came when he admitted to fabricating Bob Dylan quotes in his non-fiction book, Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Lehrer is not alone, though – journalists have done this before. Some notable examples are Jayson Blair of the New York Times and Stephen Glass of The New Republic who plagiarized quotes, fabricated content, and even made up entire stories, as was the issue in Glass’ case.

Why would a journalist do such a thing? Why does this continue to happen, and what could it mean for the future of fact-checking and journalism as a whole?


David Folkenflik, Media Correspondent, NPR

Geneva Overholser, Director, USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism