15 February 1950 |
|Citizenship||American and Canadian|
|Education||BA (University of Michigan)
MA, English (University of Toronto)
Margaret Wente (born 15 February 1950) is a conservative American-born Canadian columnist for Canada's largest national daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and a director of the Energy Probe Research Foundation. She received the National Newspaper Award for column-writing in 2000 and 2001. In 2012 Wente was found to have plagiarized on a number of occasions. She was suspended from writing her column, but later reinstated.
Early life and education
Wente was born in Evanston, Illinois and moved to Toronto in 1964, and has since become a naturalized Canadian citizen. She holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and a MA in English from the University of Toronto.
In 2004 Margaret Wente published Accidental Canadian, her autobiographical account of becoming a columnist at The Globe & Mail. She explains that she remembers singing The Star-Spangled Banner at July Fourth celebrations at Soldier Field. In grade 3 she "decided to crash through the gender barrier on the school bus and claim my right to sit in the boys’ section" (p 70). Wente’s mother was a "one-woman voluntary social services agency" (p 109). The book Gone with the Wind was her comfort, reading the romance of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O'Hara 22 times by age 17 (p 45). Smoking cigarettes started at age 12, she inhaled at age 15. "I smoked to be worldly" (p 33). She quit in 1981 "because smoking wasn’t sexy anymore" (p 34). In 1964 Wente moved to Don Mills, Ontario when her mother married a Canadian. Not challenged by her grade 10 classes, she "took up smoking with greasers behind the shopping plaza" (p 141). That led to an intervention: "My mother yanked me from behind the shopping plaza and sent me (at ruinous expense) to a girls school. It didn’t stop me from smoking on the sly, but at least it was the kind of place where I didn’t have to hide the fact that I like to read" (p 145). Then she became enamoured with the poetry of Leonard Cohen: "I only hoped that Leonard Cohen would wait for me to reach the age of majority, so that I could make it up to him for Suzanne" (p 47). On Saturday mornings, at the Lord Simcoe Hotel in Toronto, nerdy teenagers like Wente drank coffee and smoked with columnist Richard J. Needham. He became something of a mentor, giving her a tour of the newspaper, and sharing with her some of the newspaper’s slang: Grope & Flail, Groan & Wail, Mop & Pail (p 29).
- I schlepped espressos and salami sandwiches, oceans of goulash and mountains of pastries and gallons of orange frappes. [The Coffee Mill] offered a hint of continental sophistication in a city that was still hopelessly parochial….Some of the customers were genuine writers…In nice weather they could sit outdoors on a terrace…I was serving the intelligencia…I wore a white polyester apron with a miniskirt and high-heeled sandals. (p 41)
Looking back on the experience, she recalls "At night I would sleep the sleep of the physically exhausted, an experience I would rarely have again." She notes, "A stint of manual labour gives children of the middle class a first-hand taste of how the other half lives" (p 43). After graduating from University of Michigan, noticing that the USA was in a "dark phase, torn apart by the politics of Vietnam" (p 7), she chose to live and work in Canada.
Wente was "hired right out of university to be a book publicist" (p 20). Her first assignment was a book on the Summit Series, a confrontation in 1972 of national ice hockey teams from Canada and Russia. She did her job and spent time with the coach, but in her own memoir shows her opinion:
- [Hockey] is a sport where they send their big star out to play after he’s had his seventh concussion. He says he's fine, but how would he know? His brain has turned to scrambled eggs. (p 23)
She claims "Hockey does not promote civic engagement. It destroys it" (p 24).
She joined The Globe and Mail in 1986. She has been editor of the paper's business section, the ROB [Report on Business], and managing editor of the paper. Her columns have appeared in the Globe and Mail since 1992,  She is a frequent commentator on television and radio, and has won several journalism awards.
In September 2012, Wente was found to have committed plagiarism by Carol Wainio, a blogger and artist who accused Wente of lifting quotes and rewording passages from published sources without credit. Wainio documents on her blog, Media Culpa, a series of columns and articles published from 2009 to 2012, which plagiarize sources including the Ottawa Citizen, the New York Times and Foreign Affairs. On 21 September 2012, the Globe and Mail's public editor addressed the allegations, conceding that "there appears to be some truth to the accusations but not on every charge."
The Globe and Mail subsequently took unspecified punitive actions against Wente for a column written in 2009. Editor John Stackhouse acknowledged that "the journalism in this instance did not meet the standards of The Globe and Mail," noting that the work in question was "unacceptable." However, Wente continued to write for the Globe and Mail. Wente herself wrote a column to defend herself against accusations of being a "serial plagiarist" but acknowledged she was "extremely careless". She took a break from writing her column for a week. On 11 October she resumed with a column explaining her actions, but never explicitly apologizing.
She was also suspended from CBC Radio where she appeared as a biweekly media panelist on the program Q due to her not meeting the CBC's journalistic standards as a result of the 2009 incident.
- 2004: An Accidental Canadian: Reflections on My Home and (Not) Native Land, HarperCollins, ISBN 0-00-200798-3 .
- 2009: You Can't Say That in Canada, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-1-55468-468-7 .
- "Board". Energy Probe Research Foundation. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- "Multiple Winners". National Newspaper Awards. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- Margaret Wente, The Globe and Mail online, retrieved 2012-09-21
- Alzner, Belinda (2012-09-20). "Media Culpa blog raises questions of plagiarism by Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente". The Canadian Journalism Project. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- Pritchard, Trevor (2012-09-20). "Did Margaret Wente plagiarize the Citizen's Dan Gardner? Media watchdog makes the case". OpenSource online. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- Moher, Frank (2012-09-19). "Is there an echo in here?". Back of the Book online. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- Stead, Sylvia. "Public editor: We investigate all allegations against our writers". The Globe and Mail online. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- "Globe takes action on allegations against columnist Margaret Wente". The Guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
- "Columnist Margaret Wente defends herself". The Globe and Mail. 25 September 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
- Wente, Margaret (11 October 2012). "Romney and Obama, consultant vs. professor". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "Statement on Margaret Wente and Q's media panel". CBC. Retrieved 27 September 2012.