Publisher admits column about Veterans should not have run

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We got it wrong.

Recently, we at Weekender made a very poor decision to publish a column about an incident that should never have happened in the first place. One of the freelance journalists we utilize, who up until mid-November was a Weekender staff columnist, wrote about an experience he had in a local bar that involved a Veteran. The bottom line is, he misrepresented his affiliation to the military, of which he had none.

Unacceptable.

We’d like to think that this type of scenario would never see the light of day. But it did. So not only was the actual act wrong, so was the writing of it, and so was our inability to kill it in the editing process. We failed.

I’m sorry for that. But we all know in this case, and for many people, that rings hollow. In this case, the apologies written by the writer and editor are definitely not enough. My apology is not enough. We must and will do better. I’m taking three immediate steps to ensure we work to never repeat such an incident:

• I’m calling for an immediate review of the tone and mission of Weekender.

• Every story we choose to publish, starting right now, will be reviewed by two editors, not one. No exceptions.

• We will conduct training for the Weekender staff on issues that go beyond humor and satire, and fall into the realm of poor taste.

Just because we have the right to publish something doesn’t mean we should.

Publishing an alternative magazine like Weekender, where satire and humor blend with the everyday, is risky. The types of stories and commentary are very different from what we publish in our daily newspaper. It’s not for everyone. Even though it’s challenging at times to distinguish between one person’s humor and another person’s pain, we must accept that responsibility and realize the fine line we walk.

Additionally, I’ll be reaching out to local Veterans groups for further discussion. We need to set the record straight – we value our Veterans. We value their service. We value the freedoms they’ve provided to us. And we need to be better stewards of those freedoms.

Doug Olsson

Publisher

Times Leader Media Group

Doug Olsson outlines steps to prevent future incidents
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