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Jill Abramson doesn't record interviews thanks to almost photographic memory

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. LanceyHoward

    LanceyHoward Well-Known Member

    I read a couple of them. Evidently Capote used the lead detective, who he cast in a heroic light, as his primary source. In the book the detective, upon hearing a tip from a jail house informant, sprang into action and cracked the case. Another detective took files home that his son is trying to sell that indicate the lead detective took longer to solve the case and generally was not as brilliant as preceived in the book.

    While the book is probably inaccurate and Capote to close to his source I don't think there is evidence Capote just made things up.
  2. daemon

    daemon Well-Known Member

    In the modern age, an act of plagiarism like this might be a lot easier to inadvertently commit than a lot of us give it credit for. I suspect what happens on some occasions is that a writer uses Notepad or some sort of word processing app to take notes. On some occasions, they paraphrase whatever nugget of information they come across. Other times, they find it easier to just copy and paste a graf from their browser with the thought that they will end up incorporating the information into their overall work. Unless the writer is super organized, I would think it would be easy for them to occasionally mistake a rather mundane block of text in their Notes document for their own paraphrasing, rather than a direct copy+paste.

    Really, it doesn't make sense for a writer to knowingly crib such a mundane paragraph when they could easily rewrite that information. I guess that doesn't excuse it. And if the writer does not offer attribution, it is a clear sin. But if she cites the source of the information of a paragraph that ends up being lifted verbatim, we're really only talking about the lack of italics of quotation marks or an attributive parenthetical. Sloppy, yes. But a different ethical ballpark than knowingly passing off somebody else's work as one's own.
  3. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    Hasn't it always been understood that Capote created a "nonfiction novel," the first of its kind? Still, the guy was an inveterate liar and a rather large POS, who burned bridges like a retreating army.
  4. daemon

    daemon Well-Known Member

    This points to the great tension of "literary" non-fiction: is the writer's end goal to tell the best story that his facts, research, and interviews allow, or is it to tell some objective, holistic version of the Truth?
  5. Monday Morning Sportswriter

    Monday Morning Sportswriter Well-Known Member

    Not surprising.

    Ruth Reichl, the former New York Times restaurant critic (and former food editor and critic at the LA Times), wrote a book about 15 years ago about her experiences. About halfway through the acknowledgments in the back of the book, you find this:

    “I have taken many liberties that do not follow journalistic principles ... some of the characters have been disguised ... in some cases I’ve exaggerated. In others, I’ve conflated a few meals into one, or combined events that took place over a space of time into a single afternoon or evening. And I’m sure there are details I’ve gotten wrong ... I’ve relied on memory of events and conversations that took place a fairly long time ago.”

  6. swingline

    swingline Well-Known Member

    When I read "In Cold Blood," it seemed like a great novel loosely based on facts.
  7. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    that seems like someone being rather honest about what many nonfiction writers do. but yeah, maybe you'd wanna put that in the front of the book, not the back.
  8. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member


    But that clause is only of value after the fact, and only protects the publisher.

    Screening manuscripts to make sure errors (or malfeasance) never make it into print is a lot more effective, but much more expensive.

    Worth every penny to hire your own fact-checker if you write non-fiction.
    RonClements likes this.
  9. RonClements

    RonClements Active Member

    I just finished my first book - called Home Run On Wheels, about our trip to all 30 MLB stadiums in 2018 while on a charity mission to raise awareness of the needs of children in the foster system. I had podcast interviews to fall back on to get quotes right and made sure to double- and triple-check facts about stadium amenities, the museums and halls of fame we visited, national parks, foster care statistics, etc. It may be time-consuming at times, but it's really not difficult to not plagiarize or get facts right. By the way, the Home Run On Wheels book will be out this summer.
  10. Azrael

    Azrael Well-Known Member

    Good luck, brother. Hope you sell a million of 'em.
    RonClements likes this.
  11. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    So she's basically a liar. Nice.
  12. RonClements

    RonClements Active Member

    That would be awesome.
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