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Tennis • Beware Of The “Neil’s” A Serial Plagiarist Plans A Return To Tennis • Disgraced Journalist Neil Harman

Coach Michael Joyce of Maria Sharapova holds a raquet with tennis balls during a practice session of the second seeded at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 13 January 2013. The first round of the Australian Open kicks off on January 14th. EPA/Dennis Sabangan

Editors Note: • No Shame •

It was recently announced Neil has clawed his way back into tennis. We felt it important to share this older piece written by Mark Winters.

Neil didn’t steal a word or a sentence or a thought. NO. He stole and plagiarised some entire paragraphs and stories for more than a handful of years. What audacity he had as he looked down on the non ITWA tennis writers.

My fave was he didn’t even fix typos.

 Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times broke a lot of this story. (google)

To many of us it’s a sad day to see Neil again. Maybe He should stay in football. (LJ) 

 

 

Mark Winters Story on Neil Harman

 

Beware Of “Neils” Mark Winters

 

In April of 2014, Neil Harman, the long-time Tennis Correspondent for The Times, a British newspaper, was accused of “borrowing” from an array of publications such as The New York Times and Sports Illustrated, as well as publications in his country like the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. Thievery of any sort, in the media world (or any world for that matter), is despicable, but in the case of this Englishman, it was even more scandalous. After all, he had, during his lengthy career, been President of the International Tennis Writers Association (ITWA), Chairman of the British Lawn Tennis Writers, as well as an award-winning writer…and he was the individual who produced the annual Wimbledon summary.

 

Once the situation was thoroughly investigated it was found that his creative stealing had been taking place for years. When some members of the tennis journalism community discovered the truth, they were staggered, and thoroughly shocked. Others were not all that surprised based on the slights witnessed and received from the loquacious perpetrator.

 

In a letter dated, July 23, 2014 and sent to ITWA Co-President Paul Newman, Harman said, in part, “…I have decided to resign from ITWA and do so with a heavy heart but it is clear that I have no alternative.

 

“It has been brought to my attention that I have severely compromised my position as a member, having used unattributed material to form part of my writing of the Wimbledon Yearbook. There can be no excuse for such shoddy work, which I deeply regret. I did it without malice aforethought, but that I did it at all is simply inexcusable.

 

“I sincerely had no idea the extent to which I had let the Club, myself and my colleagues down and feel it is only right that I relinquish my membership. This is a marked stain on my reputation and (I hope) good name…”

 

In his October 1, 2014, column titled, “Mailbag: The debate over Kafelnikov, ATP-Asian Games and Neil Harman”, Jon Wertheim, in response to a query about the situation noted, “I’m not ducking the questions. I just don’t have much to add. I know I speak for many when I say it’s been profoundly sad to watch this unfold. One takeaway for me: this has sharpened a distinction between abstract and concrete. Presented with this fact pattern in the abstract — a colleague repeatedly plagiarizes work from others — I think most of us would be inclined to reach a harsh conclusion. Yet when this happens to someone you’ve known quite well for many years — a longtime colleague who owns his mistake with honor and humility — you hope the decision-makers show some mercy.”

 

Obviously, words mean different things to different people. For this reason, it makes sense to read through more of Harman’s resignation communiqué, in which he added, “…When Wimbledon first informed me that they had been made aware of this lack of professionalism, I immediately told those British writers who were attending the Davis Cup tie in Naples. Since then, I realise that I had made several errors which are unconscionable. It is far better for all concerned that I resign my membership.”

 

He continued, “As a founder member of the association, I am exceedingly proud of its many achievements in opening up the game more to the media, our excellent facilities worldwide and the ability of our members to mingle more with players to the enhancement of our working practices. I relished my time as president, and believe I contributed much to the advancement of our profession.

 

“But I have allowed my standards to slide, more than is acceptable.”

 

Readers who have gotten this far in my story are probably now asking – So what’s the point? A tennis journalist for forty years oversteps and is dismissed (by The Times) – Big deal.

 

Having written about the sport for more than forty years, I was well acquainted with Harman and had, on numerous occasions, witnessed his superior attitude and unbridled arrogance in dealing with people and circumstances. When his transgression was revealed, I tipped my hat to hat to Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times, for his discovery diligence.

 

With Harman’s outing, I must add that my concern about the state of tennis journalism increased, and I continue to be fearful that there are more “Neil’s.”

 

Surprisingly, at the annual Gerry Weber Open Media Awards Dinner, that was held on Thursday, June 18th, I found hope.

 

Tournament Press Officer, Frank Hofen, who treats everyone as a dear friend, was the Master of Ceremonies. The journalists and photographer honored were: Thomas F. Starke, a well respected Westfalen-Blatt photographer; Brigitte Schurr, the Chief/Managing Editor of Deutsche Tennis Zeitung, and Matthias Stach, a sports journalist and television commentator.

 

Nearly every seat at the gathering, that took place at the quaint Gerry Weber Landhotel, was filled. Those on hand appreciated the gourmet repast provided and enjoyed the fact that fellow professionals were recognized. But, the star of the evening was Dr. Stephan Kaußen, a professor of sports and political-journalism at the Macromedia University for Media and Communication MHMK in Cologne, Germany. His captivating speech to those in attendance was a breath of fresh air.

 

Kaußen, after being introduced by Hofen, provided background on each of the award winners while weaving, in German and English, a tapestry about what it means to be a responsible journalist. He spoke with fervor, but his words were not filled with rabid intensity. He used quiet reason to make his points. Listening to him, made it easy to see why his university lecture focus is about altruism and humanism.

 

He discussed the necessity and the importance of being competent as well as thorough. It was apparent that he has a reasoned and passionate opinion about the fate of journalism in a world that often relies on blogs produced by individuals whose claim to fame is merely having an opinion and time to state it.

 

He was entertaining and informative. He made everyone feel like they were part of a big family. He touched both the heart and soul of each of the attendees.

 

Dr. Stephan Kaußen was a gift. Not everyone who speaks has the skill to intertwine stories the way he did; to have the presence and status to caution that journalism needs to beware of anyone who is a “Neil”.

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