Radiolab producers don’t believe Lehrer’s contributions to be “compromised”

By Mike Janssen

WNYC, the producer of public radio’s Radiolab, has found “no reason to believe” that frequent contributor Jonah Lehrer’s appearances on the show are “compromised.” Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker Sunday after Tablet magazine revealed that he had made up quotes attributed to Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works.

Here’s the full statement from WNYC:

Jonah Lehrer has been a regular contributor to Radiolab as an “explainer,” making technical science more accessible and bringing much needed meaning to new scientific research. He has been a lively and compelling voice and has helped make the history of science come alive for listeners. We are deeply saddened by the news this week about such a talented and valued colleague.

Radiolab has not used Jonah as a standalone authority on any topic within an episode. Rather, he has brought new research to the attention of the program and the producers in turn have interviewed primary sources and researchers, weaving the voices together as part of a choir — a style of reporting that defines Radiolab. Since Jonah has not been in the role of reporter for Radiolab and we have employed standard practices of journalism in producing the episodes, we have no reason to believe his work with Radiolab is compromised. But we will review the work as needed.

A WNYC spokesperson would not elaborate when asked how Radiolab’s producers will determine the need for review.

Lehrer first came under scrutiny last month when media watcher Jim Romenesko pointed out that the writer had recycled some of his own pieces for multiple publications. The ensuing controversy over Lehrer’s “self-plagiarism” prompted Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad to write a blog post in Lehrer’s defense. “The notion that Jonah is a ‘plagiarist’ is beyond ridiculous,” Abumrad wrote on June 22. “And the way in which some journalists are jumping up and down, claiming he’s no longer a ‘writer’ but an ‘idea man’ or an example of ‘male arrogance’…that’s just plain ugly.” As of that writing, Lehrer had appeared on Radiolab 17 times.

In March, This American Life took down (for a second time) several stories by reporter Stephen Glass, who in 1998 was found to have concocted parts of articles he’d written for national publications.

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