As you probably already know, Globe sportswriter Ron Borges has quietly left the paper. That means his two-month suspension for lifting chunks of a column from the Tacoma News Tribune will stand as the last word on his long career at 135 Morrissey Boulevard.
David Scott, who’s been blogging prodigiously on this (see this and this), invites me “to comment on the significance of the botched Borges bye-bye.” Well, I don’t know. At the time of Borges’ suspension, I wondered if he’d ever come back. I guessed he would, since the Globe has been his platform for various broadcasting and outside writing assignments. I guessed wrong — hardly the first time.
Readers of Media Nation know that I’m an exceedingly narrow sports fan. Since Borges didn’t cover the Red Sox, I’ve read very little of his stuff over the years. I do recommend this John Gonzalez profile of Borges in Boston Magazine, which includes the following hilarious passage:
Boston sports junkies might be surprised to hear this. Dan Shaughnessy has always been the guy they’d most like to dump into the harbor. But over the past few years, Borges seems to have supplanted his fellow Globe scribe as the most vilified writer in town. “We should have one of those Globe polls — ‘Who do you hate more?'” Shaughnessy says. “I’ve challenged Borges to see who could get out the vote. It would be close. And it would be a lot more interesting than who’s going to win the MVP.”
Actually, it would be a lot less interesting than to see who’s going to win the MVP, but that’s Shaughnessy: a sportswriter who doesn’t seem to like sports all that much.
One aspect of Borges’ meltdown continues to trouble me. You cannot judge whether or not he committed plagiarism without taking a close look at the disclosure that ran with his football notes column, as well as with the notes columns of several other Globe sportswriters: “[M]aterial from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.”
How do you hang someone out to dry for lifting material when there was a huge, blinking sign telling readers that the material they were about to read was at least partially — yes, lifted from other sources? Of course Borges should have rewritten the stuff he was taking, but it’s not as though he’d claimed that it was the fruit of his own labors. To this day, I doubt that he thinks he did anything wrong. (Just to be clear: He did.)
The most fully reported piece on Borges’ departure is by Jessica Heslam, in the Herald’s Messenger Blog. Reading between the lines, it sounds like Borges — who actually returned to the Globe two weeks ago — realized that his outside work was not going to disappear if he left, and that he’d rather pursue that than stay with an employer who had publicly accused him of being a plagiarist.
Update: Cold, Hard Football Facts, the Web site that first reported on Borges’ light fingers, weighs in on his departure — right down to some Snoop Dogg-style boasting about the size of its virtual testicles. Really.