The Boston Globe yesterday suspended without pay for two months a veteran sports reporter, Ron Borges, after allegations that he had plagiarized a portion of a football column from another sportswriter.
The Globe's editor, Martin Baron, said Borges had included in his "Football notes" column last Sunday material written by a reporter for the News Tribune of Tacoma.
"The Globe does not tolerate plagiarism," Baron said in a statement. "Extensive passages written by the Tacoma reporter were used verbatim in the column by Borges, and that is prohibited."
Borges will also be barred from broadcast appearances over the next two months, Baron said.
The plagiarism allegation was first lodged by a website, coldhardfootballfacts.com.
Borges, who has been a sportswriter for the Globe for 24 years, has for about a decade been the national football writer for the paper; he also covers boxing. He previously was the beat reporter covering the New England Patriots and has on occasion been controversial for his contrarian views and his criticism of the Patriots' head coach, Bill Belichick. Borges has won multiple honors for his writing, including being named Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year four times since 1999.
According to Globe sports editor Joe Sullivan, Borges is a subscriber to an online notes exchange used by NFL writers, who share information with one another in advance of Sunday notebook columns that run in many newspapers. Sullivan said Borges took, without attribution, language posted to the notes exchange by the News Tribune's Seahawks writer, Mike Sando. The information had been published Feb. 25 in the News Tribune, but Sullivan said Borges was not aware of that fact.
Borges's column, like other sports notes columns in the Globe, contained a line at the bottom, reading "material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report." But Sullivan said reporters are expected to use the shared notes for background material and not to lift the language directly from one another.
Borges declined to comment, but his union representative issued a statement saying: "The Boston Newspaper Guild stands behind Ron and the high-quality work he has done for the Globe over the years. We will work on his behalf to see that justice is served in this matter."
At the News Tribune, Sando declined to comment, but deputy managing editor Dale Phelps said in a telephone interview: "It's unfortunate that this happened, but from our point of view there's no anger or dismay. You have to take care of your house, and we have to take care of ours."