Margaret Wente leaving the Globe and Mail, 5 layoffs following May buyout offer
Margaret Wente has accepted a voluntary buyout and will be leaving the Globe and Mail at the end of August, she confirmed on Monday.
“I’ve had a wonderful run at the Globe–33 years at the paper, and almost 20 years writing my column. I’ve been blessed with great colleagues and fantastic readers,” she told J-Source in an email.
The buyout, or voluntary severance package, was first offered to staff in early May, with publisher Phillip Crawley saying the paper intended to cut $10 million a year from its labour budget.
Wente’s long tenure at the Globe has been … controversial.
Since her column started appearing in the paper nearly 20 years ago, she has weathered accusations of signal-boosting racist pseudoscience, downplaying student mental health crises, dismissing rape culture and plagiarism.
In 2012, professor and Media Culpa blogger Carol Wainio accused Wente of lifting excerpts from various sources in a 2009 column, “Enviro-romanticism Is Hurting Africa.” An editor’s note on that column now reads: “This column contains views and statements by Professor Robert Paarlberg which are paraphrased and not always clearly identified. Other sources including an Ottawa Citizen columnist were also paraphrased and their work not attributed.”
More recently, the Globe and Mail’s public editor Sylvia Stead had to respond to two 2016 columns by Wente, which also failed to attribute passages from other writers’ work.
Among the other staffers who have accepted buyouts are Amplify editor Shelby Blackley and veteran energy reporter Shawn McCarthy, who both announced their departures on Twitter in June.
Personal news: I'm taking a buyout from the Globe and Mail, and will wind up full-time work at the end of the summer. In "semi retirement," I'll continue writing on energy & climate. So watch this space.
— Shawn McCarthy (@smccarthy55) June 10, 2019
I've struggled with how to share this because it doesn't feel real and it's still so raw. But here goes: I've decided to take the buyout at @globeandmail. My last day is June 28. I'm extremely privileged and thankful for the three years I've spent with the organization.
— Shelby Blackley (@shelbyblackley) June 10, 2019
“We received a very good response to the VSP which reduced the number of involuntary union layoffs to a handful,” Crawley told J-Source in an email.
Most staff who have taken buyouts will be departing by the end of the summer, he added.
“The purpose was to reduce labour costs as part of our three year plan to strengthen the fundamentals of the business. This has been achieved,” he said.
The Globe and Mail is owned by the Thomson family’s privately held Woodbridge Co. Ltd.
Four union editorial employees and one from advertising were issued layoff notices on June 12, according to an update email to staff provided by the Globe and Mail.
“Some non-union layoffs will occur over the next two months, but we are working hard to bring closure to the process and provide stability to staff as soon as possible,” said Crawley in the memo.
“While recognition events will be held by departments to acknowledge the contributions of departing staff, I’d like to offer my personal thanks to the staff members who have helped make The Globe and Mail the top publication in the country”.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on June 24, 2019 at 11:30 p.m. ET to correct the spelling of Carol Wainio’s blog.
Steph Wechsler is J-Source’s managing editor.