In Defense of Jim Brady

Jack Shafer goes easy on WashingtonPost.com Executive Editor Jim Brady in his latest piece for Slate.

    To begin with, I don’t know of any editor who, absent an inkling, conducts a plagiarism investigation before hiring a writer or assigning a piece…So, if we’re going to take Brady to the woodshed for not knowing his young new writer was a plagiarist, let’s reserve room for the dozens of editors at top newspapers, magazines, and book publishers who’ve repeatedly published the work of accused serial plagiarists…Domenech’s critics have cited his youth and relative lack of experience in their various excoriations, but promoting writers to do work beyond what their age and résumé would recommend isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Look at the careers of Michael Kinsley, Michael Lewis, Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, and Ted Conover, who accomplished much in the field when still green. Or look at current tyro Joshua Foer, a former Slate intern…It’s nobody’s fault but Domenech’s that he committed career suicide.

Is there a way for bloggers and blog empires (such as washingtonpost.com) to work together? Could, say, Brady inform the world of the five final candidates for a blogging position and let the blogosphere have at it? Although this idea certainly has downsides (i.e. many bloggers would rake over the coals–potentially damaging their careers and livs–candidates who might never end up getting the job anyway, yet the damage will endure…), it might earn folks like Brady some street cred in the blogging community while simultaneously making his job of weeding out the bad seeds much easier.

>Speaking of Shafer, Ankush Khardori, blogging over at the Huffington Post, has some advice: Send media critics to Iraq.

    Unfortunately, forcing reporters to defend their own coverage has not been working well (and indeed, they’re a little busy right now). Moreover, too few people read The New York Review of Books, and since its publication almost two weeks ago, Schell’s piece has not drawn much attention. And while McLeary’s dispatches were great, they were not made available in a forum that would draw much attention from non-journalists. So who can get the word out?

    The media critics, that’s who. I suggest that news organizations send their best — their Shafers, their Carrs, their Kurtzes and Kurts — to Iraq for a few weeks or even months (longer than Laura Ingraham’s eight-day stay — not to disparage any length of time spent risking life and limb in Iraq. Ingraham, paying attention?). The result: on-the-ground-reporting on the on-the-ground reporting.