A prominent British newspaper columnist was at the center of an ethics row _ and a Twitter storm _ Tuesday after he acknowledged passing off secondhand quotes in interviews.
Johann Hari, a columnist with The Independent newspaper, admitted presenting quotes from authors' written works as if they were said to him during interviews.
Hari said in a blog posting he used such quotes when people had expressed the same sentiment during an interview, but had "said it more clearly in writing than in speech." In some cases he added descriptions of the setting in which the words were allegedly said to him.
Hari claimed he had spoken to other interviewers who said the behavior was "normal practice."
Twitter erupted in criticism and mockery Tuesday, with the subject "interviewsbyhari" _ a humorous compilation of out-of-context quotations _ shooting up the social networking site's list of "trending topics."
Hari, one of Britain's most prominent left-of-center columnists, is a past winner of the Orwell Prize for political writing. The prize said it was "aware of the controversy."
Hari's editor, Simon Kelner, said that Hari will respond to the criticism in Wednesday's paper. "He has listened and reflected on the range of views expressed and will be writing about it," said Kelner.
British newspapers have traditionally been less rigorous about attributing quotes than their American counterparts, but British newspapers have rarely been rocked by scandals like that of Jayson Blair, the former New York Times reporter who resigned in disgrace in 2003 after being found to have plagiarized or fabricated major portions of articles.
Two senior New York Times executives resigned over the Blair scandal, and there was a thorough review of he newspaper's practices.
Journalists in Britain have occasionally been fired for plagiarism and falsification, but it has rarely had major repercussions.
In the late 1980s, The Times of London fired reporter Boris Johnson for making up a quote. He went on to work for another newspaper, was later elected to Parliament and is now mayor of London.
British newspapers are currently facing their biggest ethics scandal in years after the revelation that reporters from the tabloid News of the World hacked into the voice mail messages of politicians, sports figures and celebrities. Several journalists have been arrested as part of an ongoing police probe.