The Globe And Mail Apologizes After Columnist Margaret Wente Accused Of Plagiarizing

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TORONTO — The Globe and Mail has apologized for columns written by Margaret Wente that the newspaper said failed to properly attribute prose.

"This work fell short of our standards, something that we apologize for,'' said editor-in-chief David Walmsley, quoted in a column about the latest such allegations against Wente by the paper's public editor, Sylvia Stead.

"It shouldn't have happened and the Opinion team will be working with Peggy to ensure this cannot happen again."

A post by Ottawa blogger Carol Wainio over the weekend pointed out similarities between Wente's column in the Globe on Saturday about "global greening" and a piece by an American academic at Rockefeller University in New Jersey.

Wainio said the introduction of Wente's column was similar to Jesse Ausubel's "The Return of Nature," and that both pieces contained the line: "Agriculture has always been the greatest destroyer of nature." Wainio said the prose was Ausubel's and Wente failed to attribute it to him.

margaret wente
The column now includes a correction on The Globe and Mail's website. (Photo: screenshot/The Globe and Mail)

Wainio also said Wente failed to properly credit other information in her column as stemming from original research by Maywa Montenegro, a food systems researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.

Buzzfeed also reported Sunday that there was prose in a March 12 column penned by Wente — "a muscle that can be exercised to exhaustion" — that appeared in a Slate piece a week earlier. It was not attributed to the Slate writer, Daniel Engber.

Wente did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

But Stead addressed the allegations in a column on Monday entitled: "Prose Must Be Attributed." She said the pieces would be corrected online and that separate corrections would be published in the paper on Tuesday.

"This work fell short of our standards, something that we apologize for."
— David Walmsley, editor-in-chief at The Globe and Mail

Stead wrote that Wente "deeply regrets these mistakes."

Wainio, a visual artist, has previously raised alarm bells about Wente's work.

Wente was disciplined four years ago over similar allegations first made by Wainio. The paper's editor at the time, John Stackhouse, called a column she wrote three years earlier "unacceptable."

In response to those allegations, Wente admitted she'd been "extremely careless" to inadvertently copy a sentence from a column in the Ottawa Citizen.

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