The New Yorker calls it reporting . . .

but it looks like plagiarism to me.

Arts&LettersDaily linked to an article in the New Yorker about spam,

and it was sorta interesting.

Here’s one bit:
There are spam supermarkets, online forums, often hosted in China or Russia, with names like and
Servers can operate from anywhere, and spam gangs sell lists of “fresh proxies” (newly infected PCs), offer “bullet-proof hosting” (spam service Web sites, often based in China), and advise each other on new spam techniques and on which networks are “spam-friendly” (those which will host spammers in exchange for the spammers’ paying for high-priced services they don’t need).


As it happens, though, I’m in the midst of moving from Colorado to Minnesota, and for the moment I’ve fetched up in my son’s house in St. Paul while we wait for my furniture to be delivered. He runs a small ISP, so he has a very personal interest in battling spam, and he pointed me to the source of these paragraphs, namely:

>>>In spammer ‘supermarkets’, closed online forums hosted mainly in China, Russia and Florida with names such as “”, “”, etc., spam gangs sell lists of “fresh proxies” (newly infected PCs), offer “Bullet-Proof Hosting” (spam service web sites normally based in China), and advise each-other on new spam techniques and which networks are “spam-friendly” (which networks will host spammers and close a blind eye in exchange for the spammers paying for high-priced services they don’t need).

Not likely an accident.

UPDATE: Writer Michael Specter has provided a gracious explanation in the comments, for which I thank him.

About linsee

Linda Seebach retired in 2007 from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, where she was an editorial writer and columnist.
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4 Responses to The New Yorker calls it reporting . . .

  1. James Lick says:

    I wrote a complaint to the New Yorker referencing your blog entry. I got a reply from Pamela McCarthy today saying, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We will look into it right away.” Hopefully they will do the right thing.

  2. Michael Specter says:

    Dear Ms. Seebach:

    I saw your blog entry on my Spam piece in last week’s New Yorker and
    wanted to let you know what happened. The short answer is I screwed
    up; a longer one would, I hope, make it clear to you that there was
    no plagiarism in the mistake or the story. Spamhaus was of
    course a major source for the information in that part of my story and at some point during the two months I worked on the piece I pasted their description of spam “supermarkets” into the text, giving them proper credit. Later I moved the sentences around, and in doing so I
    separated that material from the attribution – which, while absolutely
    improper, was not intentional. I suspect I didn’t notice my
    error because I had learned the information from several other sources as well. I hope it is obvious to you that if I had wanted to pass off a sentence from somebody else’s work as my own I would have never
    pointed readers toward Spamhaus at all, let alone in that same paragraph.

    Spamhaus hands this information out freely with the hope that it will be publicized. Nonetheless, I am not in the habit of reprinting white papers, press releases or anything else without letting readers know where the information came from. I should have put that sentence in quotes, or quoted one of the other people who told me the same thing or otherwise made it clear how I found out what I knew. It was sloppy, I regret the mistake and appreciate the fact that you noticed.

    Michael Specter
    Staff Writer
    The New Yorker

  3. jgm says:

    Hi Linda,

    Nice catch. I linked. Your RMN e-mail doesn’t work anymore. Got a new one? That you’ll send to me?

  4. linsee says:

    I thank Michael Specter for his gracious explanation. Cut-and-paste makes this all too easy to do innocently. The trouble is that the not-so-innocent often trot out the same story.