Misreading the Environment, Part II

Nearly four years ago, I wrote this blog post about how the Globe and Mail newspaper responsed to allegations that columnist Margaret Wente had used uncredited sources in some of her writing. In that post, I talked about the model of population ecology, from organizational theory. The model suggests that if an organization wants to be considered legitimate, and to gain benefits of legitimacy such as resources and power, then it needs to monitor cues in its external environment, and respond to those cues in ways that the environment considers appropriate.

Wente was briefly suspended after those 2012 allegations, but returned to her job. This past week, the same blogger that found problems with Wente’s work in 2012 found uncredited material from other sources in Wente’s most recent column. The Globe‘s response to these findings was to publish a column by its public editor.  The column quoted the Globe‘s editor-in-chief as saying the paper would “work with Peggy to ensure this cannot happen again”, and that there would be apologies and corrections to the uncredited material.

After that, in Lewis Carroll’s words, “answer came there none” – despite (more…)

Vancouver Sun Story Has Similarities to Other Online Sources

I wasn’t planning to have “Bash the Vancouver Sun Week” here at All About Work, but it seems like many questionable things are slipping through unnoticed at the beleagured daily Vancouver newspaper.

The July 19 edition of the Sun includes an announcement of a Sun-sponsored “architecture tour” to New Orleans. Accompanying this announcement (on page C9 of the print edition) is a sidebar story with the headline “A guide to the storied architecture of New Orleans“.  No writer’s byline is attached to this guide. And no sources are credited for the information in it, either in the print or online versions.

If you Google “New Orleans architecture”, the second link that comes up (more…)

Jonah Lehrer’s ‘Imagine’: How Did This Happen?

This past week, I had the opportunity to read Jonah Lehrer’s Imagine –  the book that’s part of the controversy about plagiarism and fabrication in Lehrer’s writing. Imagine has been pulled by its publisher as a result of that controversy, so pointing out additional problems with it may now be somewhat redundant. (The copy I read came from my public library.) Nevertheless, after reading it, I want to outline the problems I found with the referencing in the book – an area which other commentators have also raised concerns about. (more…)