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How to win the CNN Young Journalist Award? Fabrication and Plagiarism

By Michael Fumento

"Negotiating with the Taliban is like going to dinner with Hannibal Lector," Michael Fumento, an American author and columnist on the West's engagement in Afghanistan, told ISN Security Watch. "You cannot gain."

So declares Anuj Chopra in his June 30 article, "At the Table with the Taliban," for ISN News. (Swiss-based International Relations and Security Network)

Problem is, I never spoke or exchanged e-mails with anybody at ISN Security Watch, to include Mr. Chopra. I had never heard of either the writer or the publication. But I did say (or rather write, those words in my own article that appeared in various print and online periodicals and on my own website. He simply lifted them and made it look like it was from an interview.

He subsequently writes:

Responding to the German offer to hold talks with the "moderate Taliban," Mullah Abdul Salaam Zaeef, the former Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, in a recent interview with the Pak Tribune news portal, rubbished the view that there was any moderate faction within the Taliban. "There is no separation between Taliban as moderate, hardliner or others," said the former ambassador, who currently lives under house arrest in Kabul.

I had written about the German offer and then stated: "Agreeing was none other than Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban regime ambassador to Islamabad now under house arrest in Kabul. 'There is no separation between Taliban as moderate, hardliner or others,' he says. I hyperlinked to the Pak Tribune news portal.

I don't know if that's quasi-plagiarism or the real McCoy, but saying you interviewed someone you didn't is still called "lying" in these here United States. Chopra's byline states that he is "the 2005 recipient of the CNN Young Journalist Award in the print category." Now you know how to get ahead in journalism.

I've written both to ISN News and to the website that I saw Chopra's article on. Let's see what, if anything, they say or do.

July 10, 2007 07:02 PM  ·  Media