Chris Anderson, author and Wired magazine editor-in-chief, responded on his blog to a web-tempest that blew up yesterday after Waldo Jaquith at the VQR rightly pointed out that some passages in his new book "Free" were improperly cited.
All the web loves a blogtroversy and a public takedown, and many sites covering the matter invoked the p-word: plagiarism.
In my opinion, Anderson handled the situation honorably: he responded directly, candidly, and immediately. He publicly took responsibility for the "screwup" first, and explained what had happened in more detail later, without backtracking on the failure(s) and why they matter. Read the whole thing, but here's one graf of note:
Also note the VQR is not saying that all the highlighted text is plagiarism; much of is actually properly cited and quoted excerpts of old NYT times articles and other historical sources. And as you'll see, in most cases I did do a writethrough of the non-quoted Wikipedia text, although clearly I didn't go nearly far enough and too much of the original Wikipedia authors' language remained (in a few cases I missed it entirely, such as that short Catholic church usury example, which was a total oversight). This was sloppy and inexcusable, but the part I feel worst about is that in our failure to find a good way to cite Wikipedia as the source we ended up not crediting it at all. That is, among other things, an injustice to the authors of the Wikipedia entry who had done such fine research in the first place, and I'd like to extend a special apology to them.
Corrections in the digital editions of Free (longtail.com)