Reimer: Boston Globe tarnishes credibility with shallow and self-serving sexual harassment report

Alex Reimer
December 10, 2017 - 10:23 am

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Globe professes to hold the institutions it covers accountable. But apparently, it doesn't apply those same standards to itself. 

Just before 6:00 p.m. Friday, the Globe published a story on its own sexual misconduct issues. In it, five cases involving male employees harassing female co-workers are outlined, three of which occurred within the last year. 

All alleged offenders no longer work for the paper. None were named, including the reporter who allegedly propositioned a female employee to have sex with his wife. According to the story, the journalist was “pressured to resign” after more accusations emerged from outside the company.

“The Globe chose not to identify the employee in this story because his alleged conduct did not involve physical contact, threats, or persistent harassment, and editors determined it is highly unlikely the newspaper would have identified the accused, or written about his conduct, if this situation had arisen at another private company,” writes Mark Arsenault, echoing an internal memo from editor-in-chief Brian McGrory. 

Instead, the Globe selected to highlight the newfound gender diversity in its newsroom. “Three of the top five jobs are held by women, and 22 of the 44 managers are women,” the article says. 

Arsenault also mentions the paper’s two most recent hires in the sports department, columnist Tara Sullivan and Patriots reporter Nora Princiotti, are female. Oh, and Linda Henry, the Globe’s managing director, insists there’s no sexual harassment or sexism in the newsroom –– though she says the sales department had become a “boys’ club.” A mid-level sales manager was jettisoned earlier this year for allegedly making inappropriate comments to co-workers. The paper hired an independent law firm to conduct a review shortly thereafter.

The inclusion of those self-congratulatory anecdotes turns the article into an unofficial press release. The Globe is more than happy to provide specifics about how many female managers it employs, but doesn’t think the perpetrators of sexual harassment are worth naming. Somebody should tell NESN anchor Marc James, whose unsolicited text messages to a young female actress were published in the paper two months ago. James did not initiate contact or threaten the woman. The term “persistent harassment” is conveniently too vague to define. 

McGrory did not return a request for comment seeking clarification on the apparent discrepancy. 

Compare Globe management’s lack of transparency to Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell, who granted his longtime competitor an interview about his newspaper’s sale to Gatehouse Media. Commonwealth Magazine reporter Jack Sullivan says nobody on the Globe masthead has returned his requests for comment about the unnamed dismissed reporter. 

Any work the Globe releases on the hotbed issue of sexual harassment is now tarnished. On Saturday, for example, the paper posted a lengthy story detailing how Boston companies have not gone far enough to address the epidemic. But the criticism sounds hollow, given the Globe’s decision to bury its internal expose about the topic on a Friday night and shelter the accused. 

Globe higher-ups undercut their own reporters in a futile effort to save face. It was an attack against journalism from the inside. 

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the Globe fired all five alleged offenders outlined in the article. One retired and another was a freelance contractor. 

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