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Boston Globe Explains August 4, 2006

Posted by jaldenh in Interesting.

A note from the editor

Last week, the Globe published a major story on its front page about a memo warning Modern Continental that the Interstate 90 connector ceiling might collapse. The document carried the signature of John J. Keaveney, a former safety officer for Modern Continental. In the memo, Keaveney expressed concern that workers and members of the public might die in such a collapse.

In publishing that story, the Globe relied on a number of factors. First, Keaveney was willing to speak on the record in verifying that he had written the memo, which was dated May 17, 1999. Second, we knew that he had worked as a safety officer on this project for Modern Continental. Third, he is currently employed as a safety officer for another major construction company. And fourth, we were assured of his good reputation in the industry.

We were unable to reach a Modern Continental representative late at night when we were preparing that story, but we concluded that Keaveney’s on-the-record comments, his direct knowledge of the project and the memo, and his continued good standing in the construction industry were sufficient to proceed with publication.

Modern Continental’s response to our story was delivered this week when it produced documents indicating inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the memo and in Keaveney’s on-the-record interview with the Globe, as was reported prominently yesterday. Following his first interview with the Globe, Keaveney had stood by his account in an e-mailed statement to media outlets, and he has continued to stand by the authenticity of the memo, even to this day. He also has spoken voluntarily to state and federal investigators.

However, Keaveney acknowledged in an interview with the Globe last evening that he had not been truthful with the Globe about one very important element of this story. Last week, he told us he had not sent the Globe the memo. Last night, he acknowledged that he had sent the memo to the Globe and had included on the envelope the name and address of another individual as the sender. (That person subsequently told the Globe he was not the sender.)

Although Keaveney continued last night to insist on the memo’s authenticity, the admission that he misled the Globe about the mailing of the memo raises concerns about credibility.

The Globe will continue to report fully and forthrightly on this matter, bringing to our readers everything we learn.

Martin Baron
The Boston Globe  

© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company



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