Thursday, December 3, 2009

Two-Thirds Of New Book Edited By Pulitzer Prize-Winning NYT Reporter Gretchen Morgenson Rewritten From Someone Else's 2003 Book.

Roughly two-thirds of a new book edited by Gretchen Morgenson, the NYT's Pulitzer Prize-winning business reporter, was rewritten from a previous book without apparent permission -- and with only partial acknowledgement of the original source, buried in the back of Morgenson's 320-page volume.

The book edited by Morgenson -- "The Capitalist's Bible" -- was published this past September by Harper Business. Morgenson is prominently identified on the book's cover as a "New York Times journalist." The book that served as Morgenson's source material, "Encyclopedia of Capitalism," was published in 2004 by Facts on File for use by libraries, and was edited by Syed Hussain, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.

Morgenson's acknowledgement, found following the index at the very back of the tome, reads as follows:

The Capitalist's Bible was produced using some rewritten text from the Encyclopedia of Capitalism, published by Facts On File for the library reference market.

The acknowledgement makes no mention of asking for, or getting permission from Facts of File to use its book as the source material for much of Morgenson's book.

And in an email to economics professor Ron Cronovich of Carthage College in Wisconsin -- who had been unable to find information about her sources in the book -- Morgenson admitted that the rewrite was more significant than previously disclosed.

In response to Cronovich's request, Morgenson acknowledged nearly two-thirds of the book -- as opposed to "some" -- had been rewritten from the Facts on File text. Morgenson's email said, in part:

The authorship credit is on the last page of the index. About 65% of the book is rewritten from the Encyclopedia of Capitalism, published by Facts On File in 2003 for the college library market. The content is academically vetted and updated from the original.

Morgenson's failure to adequately acknowledge her source material was first noted yesterday on an economics blog known as "Future of Capitalism."

Many questions remain unanswered by Morgenson's brief, buried acknowledgement. They include:

Did Morgenson or Harper Business seek, and/or obtain, permission from Facts on File to use its book as the basis for the nearly two-thirds of the material in the book rewrote? If so, did Facts on File read and approve of the rewritten material, and/or the content and placement of the acknowledgement?

2. If Morgenson and Harper Businessdidn't seek and/or obtain permission, why not?

3. Does Morgenson feel that the acknowledgement given to the EOC was sufficient in explaining to the reader how much of the material in "The Captialist's Bible" was rewritten from the EOC? In the acknowledgement she describes the amount as "some," while to Prof. Cronovich she cited a 65% figure.

4. Is Morgenson satisfied with the placement of the acknowledgement, in that it follows the index rather than preceding the text, where it would have been more likely to be noticed by readers?

5. How was the material "academically vetted and updated," and by whom?

6. Was the rewriting of the EOC text done by Morgenson, or by someone else? If by someone else, who did the rewriting?

Spokeswoman for Facts on File and HarperCollins were contacted last night for comment, along with Prof. Hussein and Morgenson. No one has yet responded. We'll update as we learn more.

CORRECTION: A commenter has correctly pointed out that "The Capitalist's Bible" is 320 pages, not 5,490 pages. We've corrected the number in our post. The NYTPicker downloaded the book to our Kindle for iPhone app, which doesn't include page numbers and inaccurately gave us that as the book's page count.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear NytPicker,

After reading your blog, I looked up The Capitalist's Bible on Amazon.

"Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (September 1, 2009)"

Why do you keep posting that it's a 5,490-page book?

As for the content, do you not know the difference between being the Editor of a book and the Author of a book?