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Friday, April 15, 2005
AND NOW, THE REST OF THE
STORY. Today's Globe contains an "Editor's
Note" disclosing that, on
Wednesday, the paper ran a story by a freelancer who reported on a
seal hunt off Newfoundland and Labrador that had taken
place the previous day. Except that it didn't. The note
says in part:
In fact, the hunt did not
begin that day; it was delayed by bad weather, and is scheduled to
begin today, weather permitting. The article included details of
the day's hunt as if it had taken place and without attribution or
other sourcing, as if the writer had witnessed the scene
personally. Details included the number of hunters, a description
of the scene, and the approximate age of the cubs.
The note concludes that the unnamed
writer had committed "clear violations of the Globe's journalistic
standards" and has been dropped.
Here is an account
from the CBC - posted today - that corroborates the Globe's
ST. JOHN'S - After a
couple of delays, the seal fishery off the northeast coast of the
island has started.
Sealers have been waiting to go
to the Front, the traditional name of the seal hunt area on the
northeast coast, since Tuesday.
Heavy ice prompted the
Department of Fisheries and Oceans to defer the opening of the
hunt, while the coast guard juggled several dozen requests for
The hunt opened early Friday
The freelancer's story has been
dropped from the Globe's website, but it's available on
LexisNexis, with the "Editor's Note" attached. Here is the most
startling paragraph, given that she wasn't actually there. Remember:
the following did not really happen.
Hunters on about 300 boats
converged on ice floes, shooting harp seal cubs by the hundreds,
as the ice and water turned red. Most of the seals were less than
6 weeks old.
Wow. The freelancer's name, by the
way, is Barbara Stewart, and it appears that this was the third story
she's written for the Globe.
On February 20, the paper published
a piece by Stewart on a deal that Newfoundland premier Danny Williams
had made with the national government that will bring more oil
revenue to the impoverished province.
On January 2, Stewart reported on a
lawsuit brought by former residents of Africville, once Canada's
oldest black community, razed in an urban-renewal effort in Halifax,
Nova Scotia, in the late 1960s.
MORE ON THE ATLANTIC.
In retrospect, the tragic death
of Michael Kelly may have
sealed the fate of the Atlantic Monthly, which will move from
Boston to Washington by the end of the year. Kelly was a real
Washington guy - a native in a town of transplants. But after he
became editor of the Atlantic, he found that he loved it up
here, buying a big place in Swampscott near the ocean and commuting
back and forth between Boston and Washington, where he helped run the
National Journal, the Atlantic's sister
Kelly's frequent presence in
Washington was probably sufficient to make owner David Bradley feel
like he was connected to the Boston office. But then Kelly stepped
aside as editor so that he could cover the war in Iraq. And, as we
all know, he was killed in an accident after the Humvee in which he
was riding came under fire.
Bradley felt a kinship to Kelly,
and I don't think he ever got over Kelly's death. But that is no
excuse for Bradley now to dismantle a small but essential part of
Boston's cultural landscape. This is a bitter reminder that owners
can do whatever they like. If Bradley doesn't want to publish the
Atlantic here, he ought to find out whether he can find a
local buyer. Maybe not; but did he ask? (And is it too late?)
Bradley has gotten a lot of praise
- in retrospect, more praise than he deserves - for his stewardship
of the Atlantic. The magazine just won a National
Magazine Award for fiction
- right after dropping
fiction except for a
special annual edition and the website. (No, I don't read the
fiction, but I like to know it's there.) And now this.
the Washington Post: "It's a Boston institution. It's a huge
disappointment ... and I'm really sad about it. I've actually written
an apology which I'm sending to all of the Boston staff tonight." Oh,
please. He's portraying this as an economic move, but is he really
going to save all that much money by no longer having to pay rent at
77 North Washington Street?
Managing editor Cullen Murphy won't make the move, so there's another loss. The Atlantic now becomes just another Washington political magazine. And an increasingly neoconservative one at that. Ugh.
posted at 11:55 AM |
I wonder why the Detriot Free Press doesn't take the same action with Mitch Albom for his almost identical crystal ball gazing reporting?
Maybe if the Globe freelancer had written some sappy best selling inspirational books she'd still have a job.
I'd say there's one other, more important difference between Mitch Albom and Barbara Stewart: Albom's editors knew what he was doing (shame on them), whereas Stewart deceived her editors at the Globe.
I just took down a well-intentioned comment wondering whether the Barbara Stewart who bamboozled the Globe was the same as another Barbara Stewart who's a writer. I Googled Barbara Stewart this morning, and of course I'm wondering myself who she is. But please, no speculation - someone could really be damaged by this. Thank you for your understanding.
MEDIA LOG ARCHIVES
Dan Kennedy is senior writer and media critic for the Boston Phoenix.