“Margaret Wente, the popular columnist for the Globe and Mail, is a plagiarist. At least, that’s what everyone except Canada’s newspapers seems to think.
For over sixteen months, Wente’s failure to attribute quotations in columns published between 2009 and 2012 were meticulously documented by Carol Wainio, a professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa, on her blog, Media Culpa. While evidence of plagiarism presented against columnists of similar stature in other national media markets has received widespread attention in daily newspapers, the Globe and its chief rivals have not reported on the Wente story.
Last Tuesday (September 18), Wainio posted a comparison of a 2009 column by Wente against seven unattributed sources.
On Friday (September 21), the Globe’s public editor, Sylvia Stead, issued an online response to Wainio’s post. In her statement, Stead concedes that “there appears to be some truth to the concerns but not on every count.” However, she addresses only one of the seven allegations that Wainio has published specifically. Sylvia Stead and Margaret Wente did not respond to several phone calls placed by VICE.
Carol Wainio posted a retort to Sylvia Stead’s response on her blog this past Friday, that challenges the claim that Wainio is an “anonymous” blogger”. She writes, “Ms. Stead was aware of who I was. That is because all, or almost all, of the issues identified here over the past year and more were sent to the Globe under my name, almost always before they were posted.”
As far as Stead’s defense of Wente, she goes on to say “it’s hard not to assume that [the Globe’s] editors did not simply put their fingers in their ears.”
Stead twice implies that she has completed her investigation (investigation is referred to in scare quotes within Mainio’s response) of Wente. Paradoxically, she acknowledges that she has not read all the original documents referred to in Wainio’s post. Wait, what? That’s right, the public editor of the Globe and Mail has declared to have finished an investigation into plagiarism against one of the most prominent columnists in the country when all of the evidence has not been assessed.
Stead dismisses the charge that seven sources were plagiarized — not from any position of reason, but because she finds it “highly unlikely.” Wainio wrote that she finds it “astonishing” Stead did not address the instance of the nearly identical paragraph in Wente’s article that appears to be lifted from an older piece by Dan Gardner.
Sylvia Stead has worked for the Globe and Mail since 1975. She knows everyone. She’s friends with everyone. She has a vested interest in the Globe brand, and is hardly a force for independent accountability like the public editors at major US newspapers…”