Fareek Zakaria and Multitasking

August 20th, 2012

Friends say Mr. Zakaria, 48, has always been a multitasker — and an ambitious one. Boykin Curry, said that when they were Yale undergraduates and Mr. Zakaria ran the Yale Political Union, he set up trips to meet the vice president, Isaac Asimov and Andy Rooney. At the same time, Mr. Curry said, Mr. Zakaria always seemed so well read that “I figured he just never had to sleep.”

Gideon Rose, another close college friend of Mr. Zakaria’s and managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, said that Mr. Zakaria has always been efficient even with his private time. As he approached middle age, Mr. Zakaria grew more committed to an exercise routine of running and tennis and stuck to it. In 2011, he briefly separated from his wife, Paula Throckmorton, but said they were back together.

“I wish I had one-tenth of the energy and productivity he has,” Mr. Rose said. “I am much more normal than he is and therefore much less disciplined.”

Barrett Sheridan, a book researcher for Mr. Zakaria from 2008 to 2010, described his former boss as a “phenomenally fast and lucid writer” and said that he never knew Mr. Zakaria to have a ghostwriter.

Nisid Hajari, who worked with Mr. Zakaria at Newsweek from 2001 through 2010, said that, unlike some other columnists, Mr. Zakaria did his own research and writing. “I’ve edited other writers who seem to me to be overextended, and you can see it in their copy,” Mr. Hajari said. “Fareed was never like that.”


This week I am interviewing several candidates for research assistant, to complement my cadre of Harlan Institute staffers.

Zakaria’s error is on my mind.

I will be very, very careful about the risks of plagiarism that arrise from delegation. One idea I have–that may or may not work–is to ask research assistants to only write footnotes that must include quotations and page citations. Thus, anything they give me, I will assume is a direct quote with a page citation. I won’t accept paraphrases. Thus, I will be the one doing the paraphrasing with a citation, or inserting the text with quotation marks. This seems to obviate a lot of risks of an intern mistakenly paraphrasing text, or failing to include attribution.

In other words, don’t let any intern write anything about the line.

Zakaria’s multitasking seems to have put him at risk of plagiarism. I’ll have to be careful with my supertasking.

This fall will be  ridiculously busy. In addition to prepping a new class (a topic that I have not looked at closely since my 2L year), I have a manuscript of my book I need to finish by the end of December (I got a book deal–details soon). I have a symposium piece about Libertarianism and the Affordable Care Act for the Chapman Law Review due on October 15. I have another peer-reviewed piece about popular constitutionalism and the ACA for Public Affairs Quarterly due in January. The article I co-authored with Brian Frye and Mike McCloskey (who just got married this weekend!) is due to the George Washington Law Review in October. This is on top of speaking engagements at Western Michigan University, Michigan State University, Loyola Chicago, and Georgetown University (plus a few others that may materialize in the spring). This is without my duties as the newly-reappointed President of the Harlan Institute, and as Czar of FantasySCOTUS. I am nervous about over-extending myself, though I hope, as I’ve done in the past, I’ll get it done.