We blew the big story.
If you’re a regular reader, you know what I’m talking about. The headline on the Jan. 26 front page article about the Pepperbelly’s fire had the comedy club’s name misspelled – in very large type.
The news team did great work that night, from breaking the news about the fire on our website and across social media, to reporting the latest news right up to deadline. Our photographer got some truly dramatic photos. Our reporters and editors pulled together a nice article that included some of the site’s history as a Fairfield landmark.
Then we dropped the ball on what is likely one of the biggest stories of the year in Fairfield.
There’s no explaining it. Everyone in the newsroom knows what Pepperbelly’s is, where it’s located and most importantly, how it’s spelled. After all, the venue is listed every week in our Friday Diversions section. Pepperbelly’s was spelled correctly in the captions for Conner Jay’s fire photos, and in Heather Ah San’s article.
We have protocols in place to prevent things like this from happening. Three people checked the page in the newsroom before it was sent to press. Three people missed the blown headline.
Trust me, there’s a clear understanding that mistakes such as this are not acceptable, that our procedures are there for a reason and must be followed at all times. Everyone who touched the front page that Friday night knew that already, and yet there it was in bold, black type: Pebberbelly’s.
Like I said, there’s no explaining it.
It’s embarrassing. It makes people wonder what the heck we’re doing.
Please accept my apology for letting you, our readers and the community as a whole, down on this very important story.
The advent of technology bit the DR in the backside this week when official court records were not a true account of that day’s proceedings.
Robert E. Ruark, former pastor at St. Timothy Orthodox Church in Cordelia, was in court Wednesday for what was supposed to be routine proceedings in a child sexual assault case.
That was a busy court day. We had reporters in court at two different murder trials, one in Fairfield and one in Vallejo, and were not able to staff the Ruark hearing. We checked the court’s electronic records that afternoon and reported what was there in Thursday’s edition and on the DR’s website, specifically, that the judge had scheduled dates for a preliminary hearing.
Here’s the rub: That’s not what happened. Ruark, 65, pleaded guilty to several felonies in exchange for an 18-year prison sentence.
A reader who is following the case pointed out the error to me by email Thursday morning. The court’s electronic records were updated with the correct information when we checked again, and our report in Friday’s edition and online contained the correct information from Wednesday’s proceedings.
This certainly represents a grave factual error in our reporting, but it’s difficult to classify because the reporting was based on official court records. It’s routine procedure to check those court records daily, and to report accordingly.
None of us can recall something like this happening before. Whatever the cause, we got it wrong. So for that as well, I offer my apologies.
Here’s looking ahead to a better week.
Reach Managing Editor Glen Faison at 427-6925 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GlenFaison.