U.S. NEWS

Jill Abramson Remains Defiant Over Plagiarism Claims, Admits 'Some Errors'

The former New York Times editor insisted that lifting other people's work is OK if credited in the footnotes.

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson fired back at allegations that she plagiarized passages in her new book, telling CNN on Sunday that her lifting of other writers’ words was not unethical because she credited them in the footnotes.

“I would never purposely take credit for the work of another journalist or writer,” Abramson told “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter while responding to ongoing criticism of her book, “Merchants of Truth.”

Abramson admitted that there were a few missing citations in her more than 70 pages of footnotes, which she feels “terrible” about, but that overall she believes she gave proper credit.

Stelter argued that her method of lifting passages from other writers and not immediately crediting the source in the text is plagiarism.

“Even if I include a footnote, I still can’t steal their words, word for word the way that you did,” he said.

“Well if you give them proper credit you can,” she responded.

I’m saying that I made some errors in the way I credited sources but that there was no attempt to pass off someone else’s ideas, opinions and phrasings as my own.

“But footnotes are not sufficient. You have to say in the text that you’re taking the words from another source,” Stelter said, after adding that her view of appropriate citations does not match the editorial standards of either The New York Times or Harvard University, where Abramson is a lecturer.

“I’m saying that I made some errors in the way I credited sources but that there was no attempt to pass off someone else’s ideas, opinions and phrasings as my own. These were all factual passages that unfortunately did not match up exactly to the right footnotes but they are credited in the footnotes elsewhere,” she said.

Harvard’s guide on using sources approves the citation methods outlined by the Modern Language Association, the American Psychological Association and The Chicago Manual of Style, according to the university’s website.

Both APA style and MLA style require parenthetical citations in the text that indicate the source of a particular quote, paraphrased statement or idea, or fact. They also require a list of references at the end of the paper. Chicago style similarly requires footnotes and that quotations of five or more lines be indented as a separate block. An example can be seen here.

A Harvard representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its citation guide or Abramson’s comments.

CONVERSATIONS