Margaret Wente has a column on Robert Putnam’s research on social mobility. “Two weeks ago, he discussed his latest findings at the Aspen Ideas Institute”, she writes, providing a number of quotes of what he said there.
Unlike the New York Times David Brooks, who also covered Putnam’s views, she does not indicate where her quotes come from. She doesn’t say, for example, “as Mr. Putnam told me in a telephone interview”, or, “as Putnam writes in notes prepared for the Aspen Ideas Festival”.
All of the specific quotes Wente provides, however, along with an overview of Putnam’s remarks, appear on a liveblog of his presentation by David Weinberger at Joho the Blog a couple weeks earlier.
Wente: “’We’re about to go over a cliff when it comes to social mobility,’ he says. ‘Social mobility and opportunity [for kids who grow up in the bottom third of society] are going to plummet.’”
Weinberg, quoting Putnam: “If we look out the windshield, we’re about to go over a cliff when it comes to social mobility…Social mobility and opportunity are going to plummet.”
Wente: “’Over the last two decades or so, white kids coming from less educated, less well-off backgrounds are more and more going through life with only one parent at home,’ he says. These kids are disaffected and disconnected from a very early age. ‘There’s a growing class gap among American youth among all the predictors of success in life’.”
Joho the Blog: “Over the last two decades or so, white kids coming from less educated, less well-off backgrounds are more and more going through life with only one parent at home.”
“There’s a growing class gap among American youth among all the predictors of success in life.”
Wente: “As Mr. Putnam said at Aspen, ‘I happen to think that hugs and time are more important than money.’ (He added that money is important too.)”
Weinberger concludes by liveblogging the Q & A session, ending with the same quote as Margaret Wente: “I happen to think that hugs and time are more important than money, but money is important too”.
At the bottom of the Joho the Blog post, the following statement is clearly visible:
“Share it freely, but attribute it to me, and don't use it commercially without my permission”.
Hence, the question: Margaret Wente is a very well-paid columnist with a history of some questionable attribution issues (browse the archives). And perhaps Mr. Weinberger is fine with people borrowing his work. But if the quotes and other material that appear in her column reflect work done by another writer, why not credit them?