Boris Kachka was born in Kishinev, Moldova but grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He attended Columbia University in Manhattan, receiving both a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Master’s degree in journalism. From there, he went on to be a fact-checker for New York magazine and eventually worked his way up to be a contributing editor for the culture section, covering a variety of subjects, from books to theater. He has written pieces for other notable outlets, such as The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Elle, and GQ.
In addition, he has also written a book, entitled Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, which was released this past summer. NPR says the book is “jampacked with information about the postwar New York literary world” and focuses largely on publishing in the mid-20th century.
On his website, Kachka highlights that he has also “written features on vital subjects,” such as “Jonah Lehrer’s fall,” indicating the importance of this particular story in his career. The profile he ran on Lehrer (“Proust Wasn’t a Neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer”) dove into the controversy surrounding Lehrer’s plagiarism and other breaches of journalistic integrity. He not only rephrased his own work for different articles and went against contracts, but also fabricated quotes from notable figures like Bob Dylan. In doing so, he called attention to the idea of what can be trusted and what constitutes legitimate journalism.
Kachka’s piece was written for New York magazine, which was not directly affected by Lehrer’s activity, as he never wrote for them. However, because it is a news magazine and because Kachka himself is a journalist, the dismay held towards Lehrer is likely strong. Lehrer’s actions infringed on an unwritten journalistic code preventing writers from reusing their work. Not only is this illegal, but it is also, in a sense, cheating. Lehrer received appraisal for his articles and books for being insightful and innovative, but they were essentially just repetitions of the same thoughts. As a journalist with deadlines to meet, Kachka is most likely on a constant grind to get his work out, and yet has chosen to remain moral and not reuse anything from his past work. Lehrer chose an easier route and got away with it for some time. Therefore one could assume that the tone in Kachka’s article stems not only from his general objection to Lehrer’s actions but also his satisfaction with the justice being served.
While the extremity of his views may be influenced by his profession, overall Kachka provides a comprehensive account of the events surrounding Lehrer and his downfall. He highlights the importance of journalistic integrity and raises the question of whether or not it will survive. In doing so, he makes the public think twice about what they can trust.
Corrigan, M. (2013, August 15). A Gossipy, Nostalgic History Of A Publishing 'Hothouse.’ National Public Radio. Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/2013/08/15/212273433/a-gossipy-nostalgic-history-of-a-publishing-hothouse
Kachka, B. (n.d.). About. Retrieved from: http://boriskachka.com/about/
Kachka, B. (2012, October 28). Proust Wasn’t a Neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer. New York Magazine. Retrieved from: http://nymag.com/news/features/jonah-lehrer-2012-11/