Fake but eventually true

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Last updated on June 15th, 2017 at 04:35 pm

The Boston Globe is bleeding after running a blood-on-the-ice story about the opening of Canada’s seal hunt:

The story, which was published Wednesday, contained details that “hunters on about 300 boats converged on ice floes, shooting seal cubs by the hundreds, as the ice and water turned red.”

However, the seal hunt was actually delayed until Friday morning due to bad weather.

So the story should have reported that “hunters not on any boats didn’t converge on ice floes, shooting no seal cubs as the ice and water retained their usual respective colouration.” The Globe has “discontinued use” of freelancer Barbara Stewart:

“The author’s failure to accurately report the status of the hunt and her fabrication of details at the scene are clear violations of the Globe’s journalistic standards,” the Globe said in an editor’s note on its web site.

If the Globe’s editors had checked Stewart’s history, they might have noticed this warning sign:

Stewart, who worked for The New York Times for about a decade …

Yikes! Talk about a red flag. This Reuters piece at the NYT’s site doesn’t mention Stewart’s past at the Crazy Old Lady, but it does have interesting comment from Globe foreign editor James Smith:

“What she told us—and we did check during the day—was that she had confirmed with one of the fishermen in the story that it was going ahead,” Smith said, adding that in retrospect the paper should have worked harder to clarify this.

Well, yes.

(Report by Alan R.M. Jones)

UPDATE. The Boston Herald leads with the “former NYT staffer” angle:

A Boston Globe freelance writer who was axed this week for fabricating part of a story had worked for a decade as a New York Times reporter.

Barbara Stewart worked as a reporter on the Times’ metro desk between October 1994 and May of last year, Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis confirmed last night.

Picture ex-NYT staff amending their resumes (“Ever worked at the Times, Ms. Dowd? “Me? Oh, no, no, no, Mr Alt Weekly Editor! Only respectable publications”). Original Stewart text here.

Posted by Tim B. on 04/16/2005 at 01:26 AM
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