Looks like San Francisco Chronicle reporter Edward Guthmann has been caught plagiarizing the New Yorker. I’m truly sorry to hear this, as I had several great conversations with Guthmann back in the days when I practiced film criticism and though him a decent person and a decent writer. Knowing what little I know about Guthmann, I’m truly shocked that he did this.
[1/25/06 UPDATE: I’ve been in touch with Edward Guthmann. There are a few things that should be noted:
1. According to this SF Weekly piece, Guthmann confesses that the so-called plagiarism was unintentional, “During the months I worked on the piece, I gathered a huge amount of research and interview transcripts that I stored in computer files. At one point, I read about the 1,000th suicide in the New Yorker article and pasted two sentences in my text as a ‘flag’ — a reminder to myself to mention the fact. But when I went back to the piece, which may have been days later since I had other work during that time, I forgot those weren’t my words. I should have set them in boldface or larger type, or not moved them at all. Huge mistake — and especially heartbreaking, since I worked so hard on the piece and, apart from those two sentences, I think it’s my best work.”
2. During the course of the online investigation, nobody (including myself) thought to contact Guthmann himself. While the Vidiot’s coverage was quite fair, hopefully this will serve as a reminder to bloggers that it’s important to hear multiple sides of the story, particularly the persons who are accused of the charges.
I leave all the results here for readers to make up their minds.]
[1/25/06 UPDATE 2: Vidiot informs me that Guthmann was cc’d in his email to the Chronicle ombudsman. So there were some efforts to contact Guthmann.]