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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Russians say NYT stole a Pulitzer

Steven Perlberg of BuzzFeed reported that a Russian news site in Latvia claims the New York Times ripped off two stories on Russian hacking.

What did Carlos Slim know, and when did he know it?

Ivan Kolpakov, editor-in-chief of Meduza, the site that said the New York Times ripped it off, made the complaint in April when the Pulitzer announced the awarding of the prize to the Times project.

From Leak of Nations on April 13:
According to Meduza editor Aleksandr Gorbachev, Kramer’s story retells two investigative reports by Meduza’s star correspondent Daniil Turovsky: an article in September 2015 about Russian state corporations hiring outside firms to launch distributed denial of service attacks, and a story in November 2016 about how the Russian state recruits hackers.
“Take one text by Turovsky on Meduza, then take a second text by Turovsky on Meduza, stir, stir, and POOF you’ve got a New York Times article,” Gorbachev wrote on Facebook on December 30, adding, “As Donald Trump says in these cases, DISHONEST!”
The same day, Turovsky echoed this complaint, writing, “And so I debuted today on the front page of The New York Times. Actually, a reporter for the newspaper completely retold two stories that came out in Meduza a month and a half ago and a year and a half ago.”
However, the Times denied it ripped off Meduza.

On Facebook, Times reporter Andrew Kramer wrote:
Daniil, I spoke with you while preparing this article and explained that I intended to follow in the footsteps of your fine work, that I would credit Meduza, as I did, and thanked you for your help. I disagree with your assessment that the article “in whole” retold two Meduza articles. Our story included reporting not in the Meduza articles, in particular concerning prison recruitment. Specifically and importantly our article explicitly said that Meduza “first disclosed the recruitment effort” and included a link.
The story of a possible tainted Pulitzer went largely unnoticed.

Until Perlberg brought it up on Monday:
The dispute between Meduza and the Times reveals a dirty little secret of international reporting: Big news organizations can take the glory from small local publications that do much of the original, groundbreaking legwork.
“The only thing which really makes me angry is that he got this Pulitzer Prize,” said Ivan Kolpakov, the editor-in-chief of Meduza. “It was our exclusive reporting on Aleksandr Vyarya.”
The Times has stood by the story and said that two internal reviews conducted after Meduza raised issues maintained that Kramer reported or verified every fact in his story. Indeed, Kramer was put in touch with Vyarya through Meduza reporter Turovsky, and then confirmed with Vyarya a specific quotation from the Meduza story, among other details.
According to the Times, Vyarya says he told an executive at a Russian military contracting firm, “Sorry, I can’t,” adding, “This is against my principles — and illegal.”
In an email, which Vyarya forwarded to BuzzFeed News, Kramer asks several questions including: “That, as described in the Meduza article, you declined, and told him — ‘No, excuse me, I am not a hacker. This is against my principles, and illegal.’”
Vyarya responds: “Yes it is, I told him that ‘Sorry, I can't. This is against my principles, and illegal.’”
The Times stood by its reporting.

It stood by Jayson Blair for two years until he finally got caught one too many times.

This incident raises interesting questions. What happens if the foreign reporter got it wrong? What if the story is a hoax? Why did Kramer include it in his prize entry?

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  1. Walter Duranty News and Comment. Or rather comment.

  2. The Russkies are experts at disseminating false information. And the NYT is notorious for passing this disinformation along. Pot, meet kettle.- Elric

  3. Why should I believe the New York Times?
    It isn't Passover, so why should today be any different?