Knight Pays Plagiarizer Jonah Lehrer $20,000 for Speech

Jonah Lehrer, the reporter and author cut loose by The New Yorker and Wired last year after he was caught out using work by others without attribution and fabricating quotes, received a $20,000 honorarium to speak at a Knight Foundation-sponsored journalism conference, reports The New York Times.

The address Tuesday in Miami marked Mr. Lehrer’s first extensive public comments on his journalistic misdeeds and prompted some advance criticism of Knight, as well as sharp Twitter comments that scrolled behind the speaker on a giant video screen as he offered a mea culpa, according to the Times.

Knight president Alberto Ibargüen said the foundation’s interest in Mr. Lehrer’s participation preceded the 2012 scandal and was based on his 2009 book How We Decide, said the Times. But the author’s speech didn’t live up to Mr. Ibargüen’s expectations.

“I think his speech turned out to be significantly more about himself than I had expected,” he said. “But nevertheless, I thought there were…things in there about trust and arrogance and groupthink and the appeal of inconvenient ideas that are still relevant for that group.”

The foundation said it invited Mr. Lehrer to spark a “thought-provoking discussion” that would help conference attendees become “more savvy about developing the promise and minimizing the perils of journalism projects.”

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