The Knight Foundation found itself in hot water last week when it was revealed that the journalism nonprofit paid serial plagiarist Jonah Lehrer $20,000 for a lunch speech at its Media Learning Seminar.
The outcry over paying Lehrer to speak at the Feb. 12 was swift, and by the next day Knight apologized.
“In retrospect, as a foundation that has long stood for quality journalism, paying a speaker’s fee was inappropriate,” the foundation said in a statement on its website. “Controversial speakers should have platforms, but Knight Foundation should not have put itself into a position tantamount to rewarding people who have violated the basic tenets of journalism. We regret our mistake.”
Lehrer resigned from the New Yorker last year after he was outed for fabricating quotes, recycling his own material and plagiarizing.
Teresa Schmedding, president of the American Copy Editors Society, extended an invitation to the foundation to be a part of the National Summit on Plagiarism and Fabrication set for April 5 in St. Louis.
The summit was spurred by the large number of plagiarism and fabrication cases reported in the past year, and is aimed at providing journalists with resources to prevent plagiarism and fabrication from happening and giving media organizations tools to handle it once it has happened.
It is being organized by ACES in conjunction with the Associated Press Media Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Online News Association, the American Society of News Editors, the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Radio-Television Digital News Association and Local Independent Online News Publishers.
The Knight Foundation did not respond to Schmedding’s invitation.
Schmedding told International Business Times that there’s a certain irony in Knight’s $20,000 fee.
“It’s ironic that I just received a $20,000 grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation to help underwrite the cost of the summit,” Schmedding told the IBT. “One man gets $20,000 for betraying everything journalism stands for, while an entire team of journalism organizations gets $20,000 to try to fix the damage he, and others like him, have done to our industry. Just doesn’t seem right.”