As iMediaEthics wrote earlier this week, the Globe and Mail put Margaret Wente under “disciplinary action” after attribution questions related to a 2009 column. The newspaper also quoted its editor John Stackhouse as saying “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…Even in the spirit of column writing, which allows for some latitude in attribution and expression, this work was not in accordance with our code of conduct, and is unacceptable.”
iMediaEthics wrote to Stackhouse asking for more information, including what Wente’s “disciplinary action” was, and if the newspaper reviewed Wente’s work as a whole or just the article in question. Stackhouse told us that “the details are confidential” concerning Wente’s “disciplinary action” and that the newspaper reviewed “a body of work from recent years.”
Also this week, the Globe and Mail changed the reporting responsibility of its public editor, as we wrote. Current public editor Sylvia Stead, the newspaper’s first public editor, said she started “reporting to the publisher” instead of the newspaper’s editor Sept. 24. Stackhouse told us by email that Stead originally reported to the news side “to ensure she had strong visibility into the news operations.” With concern to her job description, Stead “will be encouraged to examine and investigate any and all serious concerns raised with respect to our journalism.”
Ontario Press Council Responds
When Globe and Mail public editor Stead first blogged about questions raised by Wente’s column, she referenced the Globe ad Mail’s membership in the Ontario Press Council, but told iMediaEthics by email she had “no knowledge of any complaint.” We wrote to the Ontario Press Council asking if any complaints were filed, and heard back last night from executive director Don McCurdy with more information about the council’s complaints.
According to McCurdy, “the policy of the Ontario Press Council is to make public all decisions relating to complaints which result in a hearing and are subject to adjudication.” But, if complaints “do not result in a hearing, a letter of explanation is sent to the complainant and the newspaper involved to explain the Council’s decision.” McCurdy noted that “These letters are not made public and the names of the complainants and the newspapers involved are kept confidential.”
In terms of completed complaints, McCurdy pointed to the council’s website, where he noted there is a report on a 2008 hearing against Wente. In that case, the council ultimately dismissed Evan Wood’s complaint over Wente’s column on “a supervised drug injection facility which left the impression that those responsible for the facility were not qualified to evaluate the success of the program.” He added:
“The Council noted that the qualifications of the doctors participating in the program were subsequently noted and published in a letter to the editor of the Globe and the criticisms levelled by Wente were matters of opinion.”
Suspended from Media Panel
Also CBC announced Sept. 25 that it suspended Wente, a freelancer of three years, from its “Q media panel,” writing:
“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.”
Chuck Thompson, Head of Media Relations, told iMediaEthics by email that :
“The decision we made was specific to Margaret Wente’s participation on the Q media panel; it does not preclude her from being on the show in another context, like a personal interview. We will continue to monitor the story. “
Wente told iMediaEthics by email that she didn’t have any comment on the suspension or the Globe and Mail’s “disciplinary action” outside of her Sept. 25 column.
Hat Tip: Toronto Star