Hari: Knave or Fool?

Journalists Johann Hari has been exposed as using others work in his own without acknowledgement, and maliciously editing Wikipedia.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Troll Face

Greenslade argues fool:

I admit that, having written that I didn’t believe Hari guilty of passing off somebody else’s intellectual work as his own, it did give me pause for thought.
But I concluded, in company with other sympathetic journalists – of left and right and centre, such as Deborah Orr, Ann Leslie and George Brock – that Hari had been a fool rather than a knave.

And I’d be prepared to lean that way, if it wasn’t for this part of Hari’s apology:

The other thing I did wrong was that several years ago I started to notice some things I didn’t like in the Wikipedia entry about me, so I took them out. To do that, I created a user-name that wasn’t my own. Using that user-name, I continued to edit my own Wikipedia entry and some other people’s too. I took out nasty passages about people I admire – like Polly Toynbee, George Monbiot, Deborah Orr and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I factually corrected some other entries about other people. But in a few instances, I edited the entries of people I had clashed with in ways that were juvenile or malicious: I called one of them anti-Semitic and homophobic, and the other a drunk. I am mortified to have done this, because it breaches the most basic ethical rule: don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.

I find it interesting that most journalism commentators skim over, or completely ignore, this part of the story, as Greenslade did. To me, that violation of basic web ethics makes Hari a troll and a knowing troll at that. Hence: a knave.

Update: Tom Chivers delves deeper into Hari’s alternate identity:

At one stage Johann Hari quotes David Rose in his blog, giving him biographical details like “a starred first from a degree specialising in environmental science at Cambridge, and extensive work in Antarctica observing the effects of global warming”, to support a point Hari himself is making. Green counts “at least fifteen biographical facts (from a lawyer girlfriend in Walthamstow and subbing jobs at the Independent and Spectator, to a principled and noisy opposition to the invasion of Iraq)” about David Rose, none of which were true, because there is no David Rose. “[It] was a fluent stream of lies contrived just so that the systemic smear campaign and dishonest self-promotional exercise could carry on and never be exposed”, he says.

Perhaps Hari should just admit that he’s a fiction writer rather than a journalist and move on…?

[via Shane Richmond]

ethicsJohann Harijournalisttrollswikipedia

Adam Tinworth Twitter

Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.