Saturday, November 04, 2006

NST drops Brendan Pereira - Plagiarism or Politics?

NST Group Editor, Brendan Pereira (BP) will resign on 31 December 2006. The circumstances behind his resignation have at least 2 versions or possibilities.

One is that he is being dismissed because he plagiarised the work of a columnist from Detroit Free Press named Mitch Albom. This sad story of BP's lack of journalistic creativity and integrity was carried by the BBC in Jonathan Kent's article 'Malaysia editor in plagiarism row' - which said that internet commentators (ie. bloggers) noted the striking resemblance of BP's writing to Mitch Albom's. It went on to say that BP will resign over this issue.

NST has issued a statement that they have demanded that BBC retract the assertion that BP is resigning due to the plagiarism "row". What is probably most most damning though, is that NST did not demand BBC to retract the claim that BP plagiarised Albom.

Brendan Pereira's article: 'How dearly we miss June 6' was said to have plagiarised at least 6 or more sections from Mitch Albom's article: 'Remembering the day before the day'. Here's a side by side comparison of selected excerpts from the 2 articles.

Here's a comparison of the 2 articles in their entirety from screenshots. Geez, this is good stuff but something only full time bloggers can spend doing.

Plagiarism is a difficult thing to define, especially when it's creative writing rather than academic or scientific publication. But I'm sure you agree with me that the similarities are indeed overwhelming. If BP is innocent of plagiarism, he is definitely guilty of being an incompetent writer, inept copycat and embarassment to himself and the NST.

There is perhaps another explanation for BP's sudden urge to resign. Leslie Lau, BP's one time compatriot at Singapore's The Straits Times, has written in his article 'NST to get new group editor amid Umno pressure' that it is UMNO that is forcing BP out. He says UMNO feels that NST (which UMNO owns) should have a Malay group editor at the helm. And since the only thing Malay about BP is the fact that he can spell word 'Malay' (although he might have to plagiarise someone else to get the spelling right), he's being put out to pasture, looking for some other newspaper to embarass with his services.

Another line of thought is that Tun M's supporters might make loud, discontented noises about BP and Kalimullah during the upcoming UMNO General Assembly. BP's early departure might be a convenient sidestep. However, where does that leave Kalimullah? If there is anyone in NST that Tun M disparages more than BP, it is Kalimullah. So, might he also be leaving sometime soon?

In any case, no matter which is the true cause, there is no doubt the mighty spin doctor has fallen. With his career stalled, and his reputation tainted irreparably, BP has gone from a high & mighty cock in a henhouse -to- an embattled hen in a cockhouse virtually overnight. And by the way, that phrase is a sean-the-man original. Don't you go steal that too.

1 comment:

seantang said...

04/11: BBC defends report on editor
The Star

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said its report on the controversy surrounding the departure of New Straits Times Group Editor Brendan Pereira is “entirely legitimate.”

“We are aware of the New Straits Times’ feelings regarding our report on their editor and his planned departure. We feel it was entirely legitimate to report on the controversy surrounding the departure of their aforementioned editor.

“We are currently considering our formal response to the New Straits Times,” a BBC spokesperson said yesterday in an e-mail response from London.

The NSTP on Friday demanded that the BBC immediately retract an online story on Pereira ending his term of service.

It threatened to sue the BBC if the story on Pereira was not retracted. It claimed that the BBC journalist had made no attempt to contact the NSTP to check the “veracity of his story.”

The BBC journalist, Jonathan Kent, in an online article on the BBC website entitled Malaysia Editor in Plagiarism Row, had written that Pereira was stepping down amidst allegations that he plagiarised the work of an American journalist.

The journalist said the similarities between Pereira’s recent article and that of the American journalist were “striking.”

He wrote that Pereira had told the BBC that his departure had been agreed with the paper two weeks before the publication of the controversial article.

The NSTP chief executive officer Datuk Syed Faisal Albar said in an article carried by the newspaper on Friday that Pereira’s article was clearly not plagiarism.