Journalists slow to criticize colleague

Reader contributions at mainstream media sites are occasionally unreadable, occasionally delightful. Here’s one of the latter type from the Globe & Mail after Margaret Wente defended herself on charges of plagiarism raised by an independent media critic:

“Margaret, you would have done yourself and the Globe a favour had you simply plagiarized Fareed Zakaria’s contrite apology of a few months ago rather than write a passive aggressive non-apology apology.”

Carol Wainio’s Media Culpa is the website causing discomfort at Toronto’s national newspaper. G&M editors have been reluctant to acknowledge this critic, preferring reference to “an anonymous blogger” as if they have no clue of her identity, despite frequent exchanges of correspondence before editors refused further contact.

Blogger and Ottawa visual arts professor Carol Wainio has been a particularly troublesome reviewer of the Globe because she is respectful, diligent and accurate. Extravagant rants are so much easier to ignore.

Mainstream media coverage of issues raised by Wainio has been reluctant and tardy. Like people in other occupations, journalists protect their own as long as possible. For the Globe’s most divisive columnist, the line held five days.

September 23, Colby Cosh, Maclean’s man in Edmonton, wrote Globe and Mail, or Cut and Paste, an excellent recap. Chris Selley at The National Post wrote about Wente’s disgrace today, Sept. 24. As I write, the CBC News website contains nothing about the issue, perhaps understandable given the network’s reluctance to deal with its own problems with journalistic ethics, as demonstrated HERE and HERE.

Another reader comment from G&M public editor Sylvia Stead’s feckless defence of Wente:
“Indeed, as the Kingfish would say, the Globe and Mail is not only denying the allegations, it is denying the allegator.

Further reading;

Wentegate, John Miller, The Journalism Doctor
The corporate media ethics machine, Dawg’s Blawg
The Wente plagiarism question grows, Frank Moher,

4 replies »

  1. Chris Selley on Twitter defended his colleagues. He doesn't think they were slow to respond. He thinks journalists need time to absorb and analyze. My point is that charges of plagiarism are an event. Exoneration of those charges is also an event. Events get reported. Analyses come later. Why the delay in reporting?


  2. Great interview tonight on CBC Radio's As it Happens. Carol Off interviewed U.K. journalism professor Roy Greensley.

    He walloped Margaret Wente.

    Nailed her on three counts: transparency, accountability and integrity…

    Demolished Wente's excuse that she was “not a serial plagiarizer”.

    He also said UK journalists are more likely to criticize their colleagues, unlike Canada's journalists because the UK has at least 10 major competitors “who watch each other like hawks”. Pity, not in Canada, eh?

    Definitely worth a listen.

    Bonus: Wente was fired today from the weekly Media Panel on CBC Radio's Q with Jian Ghomeshi.


  3. CBC website – Statement on Margaret Wente and Q's media panel

    Tuesday, September 25, 2012

    As those of you in our audience know, Margaret Wente has served as a regular face and voice on our Q media panel for the last three years. In that time she has brought interesting perspectives and arguments to the airwaves and played a role in the panel becoming a popular part of our programming.

    Having said this, the job of Q's biweekly media panel is to scrutinize media coverage, tactics, standards, and ethics. Given that mandate, we have regretfully decided to suspend our regular freelance relationship with Ms. Wente on this panel.

    Globe and Mail editor John Stackhouse, confirmed in the paper that Ms. Wente faces disciplinary action over a 2009 newspaper column because “the journalism in this instance did not meet the standards of The Globe and Mail, in terms of sourcing, use of quotation marks and reasonable credit for the work of others.”

    We are continuing to follow details as they emerge, but we can confirm at this time that Ms Wente will not be appearing on the Q media panel.


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