I have been trying to figure out how to address an issue that has been playing out on Facebook. Part of me wants to keep it on Facebook and not bother my print and email readers with it. But, I have always been honest with my readers, so I am deciding to address it here.
A few vocal people have demanded that I take down last week’s editorial and story about the firefighter who died, issue a retraction, and issue an apology.
First, we do not retract the truth. I have a certified death certificate with manner of death clearly stated. That is a matter of public record, it is not the family’s personal information. It is a public document.
Second, there is a storyline out there that says I promised someone I would not state manner of death and then betrayed that trust. Never have I ever wished so hard that I had recorded a conversation. I would never have made such a promise. No self-respecting journalist would tie her own hands that way. That’s just not how reporting works. What happened was an honest misunderstanding. He was talking about one thing, I was talking about another. I did not print the information that I believed we were both talking about. My assurance to him was based on journalistic standards that I would apply in any situation involving the same type of information.
As for the pain and suffering that people say I have caused the firefighter’s ex-wife and daughter, I am truly sorry if I added to their pain. That was never, ever my intention. But, this is a newspaper. We report factual information, and sometimes it upsets people.
I have been called every name in the book over this. It’s shocking, and, I admit, at times it’s been scary. I am neither easily shocked, nor easily rattled. But I will not be intimidated. I will not take down a story I know is accurate. As for the editorial, I admit, I could have handled that better. But that’s my questionable judgement, out there for all the world to see. I will live with it and take my lumps for it. Being in a position that puts all my missteps out there for the world to see is hard sometimes. But, that’s what I signed up for, and I will continue doing this job as well as I can.
I know this may not satisfy everyone whose demands and insults have arrived by Facebook, email, and phone. All I can say is that I am truly sad if my story caused the kind of distress that some say it caused. But I cannot control how other people digest the information I impart. I can only do my best to be accurate, and not disparage anyone.
And to the many people who have reached out in support, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It has helped immensely.
Until next week then…
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