Comment on the NewsLaundry article on Samar Halnarkar’s article

by plainspeak


NewsLaundry article :  http://www.newslaundry.com/2012/09/all-facts-no-conjecture/

Voluntary disclosure: I was the one who flagged that the piece was possibly plagiarized.

In my view, the similarities between the articles of Samar and Frances are:
1. Narrative. Notice the similarity in the flow of Samar’s article and that of Lappe.
2. Structures of the chunks of text in the Exhibits numbered 1,3,4 and 6.
3. Content.
4. Even some phrases.

On Exhibit 1:

Samar: “In 1993, when 11% of its 2.5 million people lived in absolute poverty and a fifth of Belo’s children went hungry, a newly-elected government declared that food was a fundamental right of every citizen”

Frances: “Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship”

Phrases that are same/very similar in the two paragraphs:
1. “lived/living in absolute poverty”
2. “a newly(-/ )elected government/administration declared”

On Exhibit 4:

Samar: “In addition, Belo grants entrepreneurs rights to run, on public land, 34 local retail markets, where the government fixes the price, usually about two-thirds of the market price, for about 20 healthy foods. Other food can be sold at market price.”

Frances: “In addition to the farmer-run stands, the city makes good food available by offering entrepreneurs the opportunity to bid on the right to use well-trafficked plots of city land for “ABC” markets, from the Portuguese acronym for “food at low prices.” Today there are 34 such markets where the city determines a set price—about two-thirds of the market price—of about twenty healthy items, mostly from in-state farmers and chosen by store-owners. Everything else they can sell at the market price.”

Phrases that are same/very similar in the two paragraphs:
1. “In addition”. In fact, both the paragraphs start off with this phrase.
2. “about two-thirds of the market price”. This phrase is not there in the source you have mentioned.
3. “about twenty(20) healthy foods(items)”. Again, this phrase is not present in the source you have mentioned.

Notice how the two paragraphs end. Lappe ends with “Everything else they can sell at the market price”. Samar ends with “Other food can be sold at market price” In the source you have mentioned, this information is part of a bigger sentence. In the source, the number of items sold is 25, whereas Lappe’s article mentions 20, the same number as in Samar’s article. All the data that is there in Samar’s paragraph is also there in Lappe’s corresponding paragraph and matches perfectly. The source you have mentioned has data coming from two paragraphs, and the data doesn’t even match perfectly with that of Samar’s paragraph.

On Exhibit 6:

Samar: ‘The local university is deeply involved in keeping the system honest and functioning. Students survey the prices of more than 40 basic foods, supply these to local media outlets and paste them on walls and bus stands.”

Frances: “For instance, the city, in partnership with a local university, is working to “keep the market honest in part simply by providing information,” Adriana told us. They survey the price of 45 basic foods and household items at dozens of supermarkets, then post the results at bus stops”

The involvement of “local university” that is mentioned in both Samar’s and Lappe’s articles are not mentioned in any of the 3 sources.

P.S: I hold no grudge against Mr. Samar Halarnkar. All I wanted to do was flag this issue so that people could debate it. Hoping these debates lead to better journalism, that’s all!

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