Accepting Blame

I know I ranted and raved on Saturday about the shift I had on Friday night. I had no doubts that those stories were good.

I spoke too soon.

Not an hour before deadline today, the news desk got a phone call from a family member who wanted to set some things straight about the fire. She wasn’t happy.

I’ll update the post with the story when it becomes available.

To make a long story short, I quoted a neighbor, anonymously, in my Friday night story and the information I was given was wrong. Completely wrong. I spoke to her for about 15 minutes and got the correct information and apologized to her. I ended up getting 12 inches, with the help of some quotes from the fire chief in North Windham.

He, too, had problems with my story. He wasn’t happy that I didn’t have any official quotes/statements from anyone. I told him our deadline, 11 p.m. on Friday nights, and he said he was still at the fire at that time. I mean, there was no one to talk to on Friday night. Everyone was busy at the fire and we wouldn’t have had any time to wait for someone to be free. I tried to get information from the fire police, but they had nothing. I didn’t want to push my luck.

This is just a tough situation altogether.

To be honest, I can’t blame either of them. I should have been more aware and understood the ramifications of what I was writing.

I did the update and, honestly, I still feel like shit. It’s one thing to get a story wrong and do a correction, but it’s another to talk to people directly involved with your mistake and hear their anguish and frustration. It’s something that I really cannot explain. I will never forget it.

Mike wasn’t mad at me and Michelle gave me some advice and calmed me down a bit. I guess that I’m more shaken up than anything. Roxanne even talked to me about it.

This is all a lesson and I’m taking notes.

For the next time, I know what to do. It may sound bad, but I need to be accurately vague in that kind of story. It’s the only way to avoid anything like that from happening again. There was no ill will in what I did, but the consequences of the inaccurate information was something I never want to put anyone through again. With no official statements, it’s tough to get anything more than a small brief.

Hurting a relationship with a fire official was the last thing I thought I was doing on Friday night. I feel especially awful about that because I’m not the Windham reporter. I don’t think that relationship is in shambles, but I’ll have to make amends at some point. And I’m okay with that.

I accept full responsibility for the story and I’m standing behind it.

I know that I still have a lot to learn and this situation has really opened my eyes to that. I’m still a newbie.

I’m not taking any of this for granted.

Jonathan

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