Boston Globe Apologizes for 'Similarities' to Local NPR Report

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(Credit: Boston Globe, screenshot, highlight added)

The Boston Globe added an editor’s note to an Aug. 17 editorial, “Biden should apologize for ‘back in chains’ remark,” disclosing that the editorial lifted material from Boston NPR affiliate WBUR.  The editor’s note reads:

“EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial contained some similarities in phrasing and structure to an opinion piece by Todd Domke on The use of the material without attribution was inconsistent with Globe policies, and the Globe regrets the error.”

Comparing the unsigned editorial in the Globe with the WBUR report, many of the phrases and sentences are repeated verbatim. Other sections are lightly rewritten.  For example, WBUR wrote:

“Biden has a long history of saying things that would have elicited ridicule by the same people who loved to mock Sarah Palin for her gaffes.”

And days later, the Globe:

“Biden has a history of making remarks that would rile up liberals if they were spoken by a conservative politician. “

The editor’s note included a correction because it “misstated the URL of WBUR.”  This is the WBUR report.

WBUR reported on the editor’s note, writing that The Globe editorial contained passages and quotations strongly resembling portions and ideas from the Domke column.”  We wrote to WBUR seeking more information, but WBUR’s general manager Charles Kravetz told iMediaEthics by email, “While I appreciate your interest in this story, WBUR will have no comment on it.  We reported on our air and website the details of this story and we will leave it at that.”

Northeastern University assistant professor of journalism Dan Kennedy weighed in on the editor’s note, adding that the Globe’s “editorial tracks with Domke virtually paragraph by paragraph, with similar and at times identical language, while offering nothing that Domke didn’t come up with first.”  Kennedy added:

“If this were a signed column rather than an unsigned editorial, wouldn’t this be a bigger deal? Wouldn’t we be wondering whether the writer had been or should be disciplined? Does the anonymity of editorial-writing mean less scrutiny than this would otherwise warrant?”

Free Republic, which identifies itself as “a privately owned website” for “independent, grass-roots conservatism,” reported that Joan Vennochi was “suspended for two weeks” by the Globe based on “multiple sources” that it did not name.  Free Republic noted that she “did not return several phone calls and an email over the weekend seeking comment on her suspension.” We’ve written to Vennochi for comment on Free Republic‘s claims that she had been suspended and will update with any response.

We wrote to the New York Times Co., which owns the Globe, asking who wrote the editorial, if the reports that Joan Venocchi wrote the editorial and was suspended were accurate, what, if any, disciplinary action would be taken against the writer, how the Globe found out about the “similarities,” if the editor’s note ran in print and for further comment.

The Times’ Bob Christie responded that “We are not going to comment past the editors note.”

Hat Tip: Twitchy

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Boston Globe Apologizes for ‘Similarities’ to Local NPR Report

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