The Margaret Wente controversy
It’s been a week since the start of a social media storm over accusations of plagiarism against Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente. The controversy began with a post on the blog Media Culpa on September 18th. In it, Ottawa artist and blogger Carol Wainio drew attention to a 2009 column by Wente that she says shows “substantial overlap” with the work of other writers.
But it wasn’t until Friday September 21st, when the Globe’s public editor Sylvia Stead responded to the complaints, that bloggers, columnists, and social media users really got riled up. Here’s a rundown of some of the media commentary:
• Sabrina Maddeaux of the Toronto Standard, wondered why media response to the issue was so slow.
• Colby Cosh dissected the situation in Maclean’s.
• Chris Selley at the National Post responded to Sylvia Stead’s “train wreck response”.
• The Toronto Star covered the story in its news section.
• Jesse Brown characterized Wente as an “idea-synthesizer” in Maclean’s.
• Margaret Wente defended herself in the Globe and Mail.
• Sylvia Stead, the Globe’s public editor wrote a response to the response to her original response.
• Mathew Ingram of GigaOM looked at what this incident says about how journalism is changing.
• Dan Delmar downplayed the scandal in the National Post.
You can read a full rundown of the events as they unfolded on Twitter on J-Source.
The Globe has taken disciplinary action against Wente. CBC Radio has suspended her from its media panel. Has the response been sufficient at this point? The general public, if you judge by the bustling comments sections on the Globe’s website, does not seem to think so.
What do you think about the Margaret Wente controversy? As a freelancer, how careful are you to properly attribute your sources? Do you think the uproar over Wente’s missteps is justified, or has the whole thing been overblown? In a world where journalism is in transition and distrust of the media is at an all time high, are these important questions to pursue?