By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

An ombudsman could have explained what went wrong with the Globe’s MBTA story

A Red Line train at Charles/MGH. Photo (cc) 2018 by Eric F. James.

There was a time when many major news organizations, including The Boston Globe, had an ombudsman — a reader advocate who would report on the inside workings of the newsroom when problems arose.

Well, I’d really like to know what happened with the Globe’s reporting on MBTA managers who live far from Boston. The story was written by Andrea Estes and led Sunday’s print edition. It told a pretty compelling tale of inequity, with subway operators, bus drivers, maintenance workers and others required to show up to work every day while some of the agency’s top executives checked in from distant locales.

Trouble is, the story has now been appended with this:

Correction: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly reported that three MBTA managers live primarily in homes far from the T’s service area. Dennis Lytton, the deputy safety chief, has an apartment in Brighton and says he has not worked remotely since starting the job in February. Michele Stiehler, the T’s chief of paratransit, lives in Boston and walks to work. Jennifer Tabakin, who oversees the T’s South Coast Rail project, also has a home in Boston within walking distance of T headquarters.

Estes is a fine reporter who’s done a lot of important work, and it does appear that absentee executives really are a problem at the MBTA — but not these three. I think the Globe owes us an explanation. An ombudsman could have told that story.

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  1. Tom Bailey

    Excellent piece. But why would the Globe be so wrong?
    I know that is the question you are asking, and i am just thinking it to myself. Things are changing int the media….

  2. Desirée Vignola

    Thank you for this piece Dan. I tried looking for the story in The Globe after the addendum but I could not find it. (Not that I looked exhaustively).

  3. Brent Gu

    The drop in news quality is a trend for the long run, as the Internet and AI replace human sources and journalist salary takes a dive.

  4. BMC

    And then in the Sunday Globe today was a story on the Vantage travel agency—in one paragraph there were 3 sentences that began “The Globe incorrectly reported”, three different boo-boos in three different earlier articles about Vantage. To their credit, I guess, they also mentioned them in a For the Record item on page 2.

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