Globe's Public Editor to report to publisher after outcry over alleged plagiarism

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TORONTO - The Globe and Mail has announced its Public Editor will now report directly to the newspaper's publisher in an effort to maintain high journalistic standards.

Editor-In-Chief John Stackhouse detailed the change in a memo to staff after allegations of plagiarism were raised about the work of columnist Margaret Wente.

Stackhouse says "appropriate action" has been taken against Wente, the details of which cannot be disclosed.

Concerns were raised by a blogger last week about a July, 2009, column by Wente which contained quotes that were similar to a column already published in another newspaper.

Stackhouse says the journalism in that 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."

He says the work was not in keeping with the paper's code of conduct and was "unacceptable."

"As a first step, we will continue to examine our journalistic practices and standards," Stackhouse said in his memo.

"The Publisher and I agreed Monday that the Public Editor position should be made fully autonomous from the newsroom and will report directly to him. That change takes effect immediately."

Public editor Sylvia Stead had said last week that some of the Wente's column appeared to have been copied from another source but didn't say if any disciplinary action had been taken. That response appeared to provoke more backlash from online readers.

Wente has written a column saying she is far from perfect and makes mistakes, but is not a serial plagiarist and that she had no intent to deceive readers with her column.

"I haven’t always lived up to my own standards. I’m sorry for my journalistic lapses, and I think that, when I deserve the heat, I should take it and accept the consequences," she wrote.

"But I’m also sorry we live in an age where attacks on people’s character and reputation seem to have become the norm. Most of all, I regret the trouble I’ve created for my Globe colleagues by giving any opening at all to my many critics."

Organizations: Globe and Mail

Geographic location: TORONTO

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