Humiliating mistake

The Enterprise news staff made a big factual error in Saturday’s paper, which we truly regret and are, furthermore, ashamed of.

Jessica Collier explained on her blog Monday (linked to below) how she mistakenly thought the property Franklin County foreclosed on Thursday was owned by one of the limited liability corporations involved with the ACR. We honestly thought it was, but it wasn’t. It was a nearby property, owned by someone else.

She found out Sunday, and despite it being a day off, she immediately scrambled to find the right information and write a story-length correction, which we posted as the lead item on our website that day. She also corrected the online version of Saturday’s ACR story, labeling it as such and linking to the correction article.

We printed that article prominently, above the fold on page 1 of Monday’s paper under the big, red word, “Correction.” That is precedent-setting to show our sincere concern for the truth, and for making sure everyone knows it.

We need your trust, and we realize that to get that back requires immediate corrective action and apology. We realize we raised a false alarm with this mistake and thereby did damage. We feel terribly about that.

It wasn’t due to recklessness. We were careful, although we understand that triple-checking sources might have caught this error. We will be more vigilant in the future. We take pride in our good work and beat ourselves up when we make mistakes.

Some readers have questioned our motives, saying the Enterprise jumped the gun in an eagerness to report bad news about the controversial resort. Please believe us – that’s just not true. Why would we do that? We have editorialized many times in favor of the ACR, most recently in our 2012 Year in Review. In our editorial opinion, we’re rooting for it to succeed and for Tupper Lake to flourish economically. News-wise, however, it’s our duty to keep local people updated on all the relevant happenings: good and bad.

On that note, we were sad to read that Tom and Sue Lawson, the faces of the resort on the ground in Tupper Lake, are becoming financially stretched as they struggle to hang on, nine years into this endeavor. They have done a great deal of good for the community, buying and upgrading numerous properties in hopes of renewal with the resort. That investment, risk, faith – whatever you want to call it – deserves to be rewarded, and we believe it’s still possible for the dream to become reality and for the Lawsons to be made whole.

We don’t publish news like this gleefully. We do it with heavy hearts, but we do it anyway because people want and deserve to know what’s going on.

It’s appropriate to blame the messenger when he or she gets the news wrong, as the Enterprise did in this case, but please don’t blame the messenger for the news being bad.