As our readers let us know, this past Saturday’s editorial page fell well short of our standards. There were multiple, serious errors. Here’s what happened.
On Friday, the day the page is assembled, the person who usually puts the page together was off. That meant we had a backup handle layout. The risk of mistakes always rises when a substitute is taking on work, and that bit us badly in this case.
The editorial from the prior Saturday was not replaced by the new one. Neither was the editor’s column. Both should have been among the first things done with the page.
Then there was the massive, and misleading, headline on the Associated Press’ “Not Real News” piece. In that case, the person handling layout made several bad assumptions, and guessed instead of asking for direction on the layout.
None of those issues answers how the page got into print, though. That was perhaps the most serious mistake on the night. Up until the page went to the press, everything could have been fixed. But the page was not sent to the editor for review prior to it running.
There’s no excuse for that. Every editorial page should be reviewed before print. That’s the standard procedure we use, and it wasn’t followed here. That lack of review meant mistakes that would have been easily identified and fixed instead made it into your paper.
We got a number of calls and emails about the page on Monday from readers who were displeased. They were right to do so. That page should never have run in the form it did. The errors were ours.
From our perspective, the failure was not with the Courier’s procedures for handling pages. It was that those procedures were not followed. We have emphasized the need to strictly adhere to those steps in the future, and there should be no repeat of the mistakes made Friday.
Several of the people who called said the Courier owed readers an apology for the mistakes on Saturday’s editorial page. They’re right. That page didn’t live up to basic standards, it should never have made it to readers, and we’re sorry that it did.
We understand that newspapers depend on their credibility to a greater degree than most businesses, even other media outlets. That’s why you see newspapers run corrections, something that is vanishingly rare from other news outlets. Our sales pitch to readers boils down to one thing: you can trust what we say. On Saturday, we’re sorry to say our readers could not.
The lessons have been learned. Our promise is simple: we will do everything we can to keep from having anything like this happen again.