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Are jarring details fit for obit?

Page 2 of 2 -- The obituary might also have noted that Burns went on to become one of the most serious clergy sex offenders and was convicted of sexual assault, jailed, and defrocked. Knowing that would have helped readers make sense of the reference.

Globe Editor Martin Baron said Phinn's ''role in the archdiocese's biggest scandal was clumsily handled and should have included more context. Still, it's important to remember that obituaries are meant to capture the totality of someone's life and not meant to exclude the more difficult or controversial moments."

These issues will resurface -- many clergy from the era of worst abuse have grown old -- and the Globe should reflect now on what level of involvement is obituary-worthy.

Blog report
Last November the Globe learned that technology reporter Hiawatha Bray was posting his political views on a web log. The editors warned him not to continue. Even with no explicit Globe rules at that point governing what's OK in the largely uncharted, semi-public/semi-private world of blogging, Bray's anti-Kerry and pro-Bush rhetoric was at odds with the impartiality expected of journalists. Bray agreed to stop.

End of story -- until last week, when a liberal online media watchdog group reported what Bray had written. That brought dozens of angry e-mails to this office; some said fire Bray.

Responds Baron: ''Mr. Bray is a technology reporter and did not cover the presidential campaign, other than a minor technology-related story on very rare occasions. That said, his blog postings were inappropriate and in violation of our standards." Thus, the November warning.

Said Bray: ''I don't cover politics for the Globe and figured that gave me a fair amount of leeway. I'm a lowly tech writer; who'd care what I thought about the election? Turns out, a lot of people did."

''I make no apology . . . for my opinions. But I do apologize for expressing them in a venue that might lead some to suppose that my employers share them."

The ombudsman represents the readers. Her opinions and conclusions are her own. Phone 617-929-3020 or, to leave a message, 929-3022. Our e-mail address is ombud@globe.com. 

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