Aroon Purie Likes Slate A Little Too Much

October 14, 2010 2:20 pm by

The evidence.

Slate writer Grady Hendrix’s hilarious article on South Indian superstar Rajinikanth has been doing the rounds of email inboxes since it was published on September 27. And while many have found its turn of phrase (Rajinikanth is described as the spawn of “a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake”) funny, some seemed to have enjoyed it a bit too much. Kerala-based media watchdog, CounterMedia, has discovered that India Today editor Aroon Purie lifted the first two paragraphs from Hendrix’s article for his editorial on the actor in the October 18 issue (there are two editions of the issue; this appeared in the one with the Robot cover story).

Here is the opening para of Hendrix’s piece, titled “Superstar Rajinikanth”:

Jackie Chan is the highest-paid actor in Asia, and that makes sense. Besides producing, directing, and starring in his own action movies since 1980, he’s earned millions in Hollywood with blockbusters like Rush Hour and The Karate Kid. But the No. 2 spot goes to someone who doesn’t make any sense at all. The second-highest-paid actor in Asia is a balding, middle-aged man with a paunch, hailing from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and sporting the kind of moustache that went out of style in 1986. This is Rajinikanth, and he is no mere actor—he is a force of nature. If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth. Or, as his films are contractually obligated to credit him, “SUPERSTAR Rajinikanth!

Now, here’s the opening para of Poorie’s editorial:

Jackie Chan is the highest-paid actor in Asia, and that makes sense. Besides producing, directing, and starring in his own action movies since 1980, he’s earned millions in Hollywood with blockbusters like Rush Hour and The Karate Kid. But the No. 2 spot goes to someone who doesn’t make any sense at all. The second-highest-paid actor in Asia is a balding, middle-aged man with a paunch, hailing from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and sporting the kind of moustache that went out of style in 1986. This is Rajinikanth, and he is no mere actor—he is a force of nature. If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth. Or, as his films are contractually obligated to credit him, “Superstar Rajinikanth!

On the plus side, India Today did take the trouble to write “Superstar” in lower case versus the all-capped version in the Slate story. While CounterMedia says it’s common for the opening editorial to be ghost-written or penned by senior editors, blogs have been atwitter that this could be a cruel joke, played on Purie by his editorial staff. Which is possible considering this is probably Purie’s last editorial before MJ Akbar takes over (who’s already mentioned in the masthead as “editorial director”). So either this was the world’s worst send-off/welcome or one giant bitch slap from a bitter staff.

So far no comment from Purie’s camp. It doesn’t help that other writers have emerged from the fray with similar accusations of India Today‘s borrowing policy. Read more here.

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Comments (17)

  1. Pingback: Tehelka does the plagiarism thing | Vimoh's Blog

  2. RA |

    Wow! This is horrifying and gratifying all at once. Its horrifying that the editor in chief of a well known Indian publication plagiarized from any other source, the nationality of that source, not withstanding. However, its wonderful to see so many people come out in protest of his action. Too often in India, people seem to take the shortest possible route to solving issues. Its wonderful, therefore, to see people stand up and support what is fair and right.

  3. Sunayna |

    How fantastically does Mr Poorie blame his staff for the ‘mistake’. Isn’t making them write his article for him also a bit off? With the writing experience he has, it’s a shocker that he had problems penning down an introduction to Ranjikant. Getting ‘inputs’ isn’t the same thing as copy/pasting them. Also signing your name under an article written by someone else (just because you choose to blame a poor soul) isn’t worth much respect either.
    Either way, Mr Poorie, you’re quite something.

  4. Amit Nigam |

    Looks like Indian journalist are under pressure of delivering too many articles (inventory) per week. One incident happened with me, was I reversed tweet to one of TOI columnist about CWG saying ‘they rather took it literally’ and next Sunday i read the same words in her column! The was delighted, how these guys take comments from public and compile into one to earn the prestige.

  5. Vishnu |

    The problem is most of the journalists and editors think that they only access the internet and they only know where to lift.

    More often than not, the quality of Indian journalism has gone down considerably in aspects like language, coverage, and efforts to locate the truth. Most of the editors do not realise that the readers know their bias, their business interests, and how and why facts are supressed. It is time for them to wake up and do a refresher course in the basics of journalism.

  6. Tusharnath Giri |

    India Today office must be PURIfied after being SLATEd across the globe. The magazine had already stooped very low. It wants a push to its circulation from prostitutes who pose for the magazine’s special sex editions, twice a year. Now what has been dubbed by Grady Hendrix as Narco Klepto, Purie is running so short of brain that he has ventured into plagiarism.
    Someone has rightly questioned, what punishment Purie would give to himself after being caught stealing someone else’s article.
    God save India from such Padma Bhushan awardees.

  7. Plagiarism is rampant in all forms of art and entertainment in our country.

    I co-ordinate an artists collective by the name of Madness Mandali and in August this year, our Creative Head – Art, Mira Malhotra had one of her designs on Deviant Art not only stolen completely, but shoddily altered and sold as a cushion cover by a renowned designer Radhika Vissanji, an Art Director from Singapore, winner of Pencils at One Show awards.

    You can read about it here – http://youthoughtwewouldntnotice.com/blog3/?p=4581

    Though the store where the cushions were being retailed immediately took them down and helped Mira contact the said thief, she brushed it off as ‘a coincidence’ and has not replied ever since.

    Aroon Poorie’s incident is by no means a one off!

    Paras

  8. jewlebee |

    wow good one…i’ll try to use the jet lag excuse next time i’m caught lifting material directly from someone else.

  9. K J Jacob |

    ‘Southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu’ should have rung alarm bells at least among proof readers!

  10. I’m positively outraged by this whole incident. Cmon, do we need to plagiarize from an American to write about our homegrown hero?
    And at such a high level? God, despicable.
    My take on it: http://thenitknumbskulls.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/open-letter-to-aroon-purie/

  11. Raghu |

    nonsense.. FO

  12. Grady Hendrix |

    I’m the guy who wrote the Slate article, and someone forwarded me a link here to check out the preview of the apology.

    India Today has refused to respond to emails from myself and Slate, but I’m glad they’re going to apologize.

    It must be very difficult for the staff of India Today that when Mr. Purie gets “jet-lagged” he steals things. I would imagine that whenever they see their boss yawning, or looking sleepy, all of his employees must frantically lock up their laptops and hide their wallets lest he lifts them. I’ve read about this kind of narco-klepto condition before (also known as “sleep-stealing”) and it is truly a burden.

    My sympathy and prayers are with Mr. Purie in this difficult time as he searches for a cure to his condition.

  13. Sp |

    <>

    1. So, going by Mr Purie’s own story, Delhi sent him what he asked for: i.e. some background research material on Ranjikanth.

    But HE, i.e. Aroon Purie, did a copy-and-paste job on that! He couldn’t be bothered to use his brain and write his own sentences. Inspiring journalism, indeed!

    2. Mr Purie, you plagiarised two paragraphs, not two sentences! If you don’t know the difference between a paragraph and a sentence, are you qualified to be the editor-in-chief of a national magazine?

    3. <>

    If one of your writers had plagiarised someone else’s work and creativity, you probably would have fired them when you found out. Particularly if they’re an experienced and “senior” journalist. So, in the interests of fairness and accountability, will you now fire yourself, Mr Poorie? You’ve certainly earned it!

    4. <> Indeed, it is not. But you’ve provided us the former. And it doesn’t wash. You love to do opinion polls in your magazine and website. Would you like to do one to see how many of your readers believe your flimsy “explanation”?! Secondly, it’s what you do now that matters, not what you say. Having disgraced Indian journalism from your privileged position, please tell us how you intend to demonstrate personal responsibility. Falling on your own sword (as opposed to throwing someone else on it) would be a good start, but only a start. Let’s see your character, Mr Purie. What are you made of?

  14. RB |

    More like three couples of sentences. It’s also interesting that Mr Purie relies on direct staff inputs for his editorials. I’m not sure what’s more face-palmy.

  15. Very thoughtful of India Today Group Corporate Communications to issue a clarification.

  16. There was an unfortunate incident with the Letter from the Editor in the southern edition of India Today’s last issue.
    This was a mistake. We are printing an apology for it in the southern edition.
    Here is a preview for your information.

    “Jet lag is clearly injurious to the health of journalism. I was in America, and still a bit bleary-eyed and sleep-deprived when we took an unusual decision: to split the cover. This is jargon for changing the cover for some editions; so while the content of the magazine remained the same worldwide, the cover that went to our readers in south India had displayed the phenomenal Rajinikanth, while our other readers saw Omar Abdullah on the cover. This meant writing two versions of ‘Letter from the Editor’. Not being an acknowledged expert on the delightful southern superstar, I asked Delhi for some inputs. Unfortunately, a couple of sentences lifted from another article were sent to me. An excuse is not an explanation. So, without any reservations, mea culpa. Apologies.”

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