By Sylvia Stead for the Globe and Mail
A Media Culpa blog was forwarded to me by a reader last night about an issue in Saturday’s Margaret Wente column.
The blog by Carol Wainio noted similarities in several passages in the column compared to experts’ writing.
Ms. Wainio notes that the introduction in Ms. Wente’s column is similar to that of writer Jesse Ausubel, who is director of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University. While both anecdotes refer to bears, Mr. Ausubel’s talks about the first fatal bear attack in New Jersey in 150 years while Ms. Wente writes about her own community’s experience with bear sightings along with other wild animals, referring to The Creemore Echo newspaper.
The column references and quotes Mr. Ausubel with a link to his article, The Return of Nature, in The Breakthrough.
In this column by Ms. Wente, one phrase is used without acknowledging that the words are Mr. Ausubel’s. The phrase, “Agriculture has always been the greatest destroyer of nature,” is Mr. Ausubel’s prose and should have been noted as such.
A third issue raised by Ms. Wainio refers to an academic work and while the column links to and quotes a news report on the Business Insider on the work, it did not directly link to the original research by Maywa Montenegro, a food systems researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.
A second instance was raised late Sunday night in a BuzzFeed Canada article by Sean Craig that quoted New York University Professor Charles Seife, who noted the same phrase in a Slate article repeated a week later in a column by Ms. Wente. In the March 12 column, she wrote that “the prevailing theory is that willpower is a finite resource, like a muscle that can be exercised to exhaustion.”