This is the Globe's coverage of Ambassador Michael Oren's commencement address at Brandeis University (May 23). The Globe now has added a correction and editor's note:
Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story mischaracterized the group of about 20 people protesting Brandeis University’s choice of Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, as commencement speaker. Many non-students were among the protesters.
Editor’s note: This story was written by a part-time correspondent who failed to disclose that he had previously editorialized in personal Internet posts against Israeli policy toward Palestinians. Globe editors learned of those posts while conducting an internal review of the Brandeis coverage. The correspondent’s failure to disclose a conflict violated Globe policy, and he should not have been assigned to cover the event. The story failed to include coverage of the substance of the remarks made by Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, and made no mention of an electronic petition supporting his appearance.
The reporter, Michael Corcoran, responded at Media Nation: You can find his response in the comments section, but here it is.
First of all, clearly I should not have been covering the story and I regret not thinking clearly enough to recuse myself from this, or metro coverage in general given my past editorializing. I apologize to the Globe and readers alike. The truth is, I have written many opinion pieces before, as an intern for the Globe editorial page, for my school newspaper, a Globe opinion blog, and my role at the Globe basically involved between 7.5- 15 hours of editorial support, news briefs, weather stories and so on.
I am a graduate student with other research interests. As Matt noted above the part-time position I held is often held by students who write editorials for school newspaper, personal blogs, etc … and generally speaking, because we tend to cover weather or spot breaking news, I never anticipated a problem. That was naive, in hindsight, and I apologize sincerely. I do realize now that covering news for a paper that aims for objectivity, given my outside work, is untenable.
As to the Brandeis story itself, I should not have been covering it obviously. I would like to note, however, that I did include two quotes, one from someone who opposed the protests and one from someone who supported them. I also quoted from two competing petitions but one was deleted by an editor, not me. So with only 300 words to work with, I did include two opposing quotes and quoted two opposing petitions. I was also sent to the story too late to cover the actual speech itself. So those issues were out of my control. I was clearly wrong to have been covering that story, but I did attempt to quote equally from both sides... my apologies to the Globe and its readers for not preventing this problem.
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