Boston Globe owns up to "lifting quotes," corrects after "violation of Globe's journalistic standards"

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The above editor's note was appended to a Boston Globe story and published in an "On the Record" column. The Globe included quotes from interviews in a story without proper attribution in its report. (Credit: Boston Globe, screenshot detail)

The Boston Globe published an editor’s note Sept. 21 explaining that an article in the newspaper had used information from a article without attribution — a “violation” of the newspaper’s standards.

Regret the Error’s Craig Silverman spotted the correction. is an AOL-owned grouping of community news sites.  The hyperlocal news sites have been popping up in local communities more frequently this year as the site expands from 37 sites in March with intentions to establish “hundreds.”

The Sept. 18 article in the Globe reported on a controversy in Boston-area town Wellesley  “over a school trip to a mosque.”

The editor’s note from the Globe reads:

“A story in Saturday’s paper about the debate in Wellesley over a school trip to a mosque inappropriately used material from a story published on a local website. Comments attributed to parents Ute Smith and Mary Crown were taken from an article that first appeared Friday morning on’s Wellesley site. The use of these quotes was a violation of the Globe’s journalistic standards.”

The quotes have since been removed from the Boston Globe article (see here) and an editor’s note also appended to the article discloses the update.  The controversy arose after “field trip to a Boston mosque where several sixth-grade pupils were videotaped kneeling during a prayer service.”

The Sept. 17 Wellesley article quoted parents Mary Crown and Ute Smith on the controversy.

“It generated a lot of interesting conversation in our family,” reported Mary Crown, ‘whose son attended the Mosque field trip last May’ said. “He learned a lot about Islam and Hinduism that frankly I didn’t know, and that I should have known,” Crown is quoted as saying.

Ute Smith, “whose daughter also attended last year’s field trip,” is quoted by as saying “It seems opportunistic to release this now when there seems to be a distinct atmosphere of anti-Islamic sentiment in this country.”

Ellen Ishkanian, who wrote the article, wrote in an e-mail to StinkyJournalism that she hasn’t been personally contacted by The Globe with an apology for picking up her quotes without attribution.

Ishkanian learned of the Globe’s using quotes from her article “when one of the women quoted by the Globe called me to ask if they were ‘allowed’ to run her quote without verifying it with her. I also got an email from a Wellesley Patch reader who noticed,” she explained.

“I have spoken with the one parent who called me and she was a bit mystified that her quote could appear in the Globe without speaking to the reporter, but she was happy that she was at least quoted accurately saying something she stands firmly behind,” she added.

iMediaEthics has written to Peter Schworm, who wrote the Boston Globe story, for more information and will update with any response.

UPDATE: 09/27/2010 12:03 PM EST:  The Boston Globe’s Peter Schworm responded to iMediaEthics’ e-mail inquiry “I certainly wasn’t inclined to answer but thought I should pass it along.”  We will update with any further responses.


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Boston Globe owns up to “lifting quotes,” corrects after “violation of Globe’s journalistic standards”

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