Wednesday, February 4, 2004
| Paper should have
done some fact-checking
I am aware that letter writers are entitled to their opinion and free expression, etc. However, such a letter, with so many negative facts, especially against a local merchant, that has no apparent documentation, should draw some attention from your staff before being printed.
I realize that you cannot verify every thing alleged to your paper in letters, e-mails and faxes. I do know you have great discretion in which letters you do and do not print. Nothing in this particular is time-sensitive, so an opportunity to doing some basic verification was available.
Absent your ability or interest ensuring only factual communications from readers are printed, you certainly have an obligation to follow up with the truth. Hopefully, such a clarification, if printed, will be done with the same font size and visibility as the original misinformation.
[The editor replies: Indeed, we were hoaxed, and we are embarrassed. We are grateful for the two dozen or so readers who let us know in no uncertain terms that a little editorial skepticism should have been in order. Read on.]