First, let me preface this by saying, I am not writing this due to any outside influence. I have not been threatened by anyone or called out for the way I covered it. The following is all based on a week’s worth of internal battles over how I handled the situation as it unfolded.
The reality is, the first article was just a simple meeting coverage article. All the players were in the room and freely discussed concerns and issues openly. And I covered it like I would any other meeting. With the second meeting, however, that was not the case. All of the parties were not present and I failed, as a journalist, to follow up with the other party or independently on claims made, before going to “print”.
I had intentions of following up on many of the questions raised. I wasn’t done with the story, by any means. Where I failed was printing half the story. I never wanted the Gallia Herald to be “click bait” media, that played more on sensationalism than the actual news. In this case, though it was not a conscious decision, it was exactly what I did and for that, I apologize to the readers and affected parties who did not get to tell their side in the same story.
So, for now, both stories have been taken down from the site, until I can investigate further. There are still a lot of questions I have and will be following up on those questions over the next week. I don’t know how long it will take, as it may also require conversations with the State Public Defender’s Office for verification of some of the information. When I feel confident I have done all the research I can, reached out to all parties for comment, I will repost the information in those articles, as well as an updated status of the contract, all at once with more detailed coverage.
And in the future, the saying “I was covering the meeting.” will not be good enough for me. Which means, if I feel a story needs further clarification or more investigation even if it all took place in a public meeting, I will be following up before going to print, even if it means that story is delayed.
And if I don’t, this is an open invitation to YOU, the readers, to call me on it.
Again, my apologies.