Op-Ed

Globe and Mail columnist accused of plagiarism

Jane Lytvynenko | Fulcrum Contributor

IN AN AGE of bloggers, micro bloggers, and status updaters, reliable journalism is more necessary than ever. To separate fact from fiction, readers rely on news organizations that write articles citing legitimate sources. Articles also go through a thorough and extensive editing and fact-checking process. So, why the hell couldn’t the Globe and Mail figure out their employee of 20 years, Margaret Wente, might’ve been plagiarizing parts of her columns?

Known for her controversial opinions on social and political issues, Wente has been editing and writing for the newspaper since 1992. But on Sept. 20, OpenFile, an online news organization, reported some of Wente’s fame might not be deserved. Recently, a number of experts and columnists have come forward claiming Wente partially reprinted their content.

The response from the Globe has been feeble at best. Wente herself apologized she wasn’t clearer about “paraphrasing” other works. But what gets me is Wente being allowed to publish another column like nothing happened.

Are you kidding me? The point of journalism—even if it’s an opinion piece—is to investigate and relay facts to the public. Journalism is one of the most honest and noble professions one can choose and it is most certainly not a platform for people trying to get famous for what they write. Well, Wente sure butchered that.

Of course she is not the first journalist to be accused of lying, cheating, or stealing, and she won’t be the last. Movies like Shattered Glass recap true stories of journalists falling from grace because of plagiarism. Even a reputable news source like the New York Times has had to deal with their share of deceptive writers.

The difference in this case is the lack of punishment for Wente, who should have been, at the very least, suspended until the end of the investigation and certainly not allowed to publish her next piece. At least this would prove the Globe is serious about its reputation and accountability to its readers.

By admitting she is at least partially guilty of the accusations and then publishing Wente’s column on Sept. 22, titled “Surprise! A little fat is good for you,” the Globe basically turned a blind eye to the whole situation. It is a slap in the face to the paper’s readers, who expect quality content from one of Canada’s most read dailies.

If Wente is still allowed to write, the Globe and Mail might as well load up on misinformation and forget honesty and integrity in Canadian journalism. The choice of writers and content is completely up to the publication. Surprise, Globe and Mail, it’s time to trim the excess fat and become a healthy publication.