A Message from the Editor-in-Chief: An Apology and Retraction

Curtis Haring - Editor-in-Chief
Curtis Haring – Editor-in-Chief

Over the past nine months, Utah Political Capitol has worked hard to gain the trust and respect of you, the reader.  It is for that reason that I write to you today to offer a deep and sincere apology.

Earlier this afternoon, a member of the UPC staff published an article related to statements made by Attorney General John Swallow after he received notice that the Department of Justice chose not to proceed with their investigation – this same article was distributed to the UPC email list*.  Both the article and the email were published with the headline “Media Statement” and the author was listed as “UPC Staff.”

Though I have no doubt that the author felt that they were working in the best interest of Utah Political Capitol, these actions were inappropriate and damage the trust that you have placed in us.

For that, I am sorry. The actions that took place today occurred without my knowledge and would not have received my approval as Editor-in-Chief.

The use of the term “Media Statement” changes the tone and character of the article and moves Utah Political Capitol in a direction that I do not wish to go. Adding to this was the fact that the phrasing itself was inappropriate, as the post would be better labeled as an editorial. By posting it as a media statement, we are being disingenuous to you, the reader.

Furthermore, the use of our email list to publish a single article is both unprecedented for UPC and, in this situation, ill-suited. It is my belief that the reader should decide what articles are important and provide readers with easy access to stories via email through our weekly update.   Finally, the use of the author “UPC Staff” was improper as the post was not given the opportunity to be reviewed by other writers, editors, or myself.

Response to these actions were swift: One author decided to leave UPC as a writer. I received several calls and text messages asking why such an article would be distributed and expressing concern that the actions would damage UPC’s reputation. Some on Twitter scoffed at the actions, asking if UPC was purposefully inserting itself into the Swallow debate, and one blog post, written by Brian Schott, was particularly acute in its analysis, stating that “this blurring of the lines between news and activism is troubling… [it] is not acceptable if they want to be considered a legitimate news outlet.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Though I was unaware of the article until after the fact, and though I do not approve of the tone, language, or distribution method of the article, they none the less took place.  As Editor-in-Chief, I take full responsibility for what occurred, as well as the aftermath.

I have removed the article from the website, along with any links made on social media websites. I will also reevaluate the publishing procedure for regular news articles as well as editorials. The policy regarding email list distribution will also be reevaluated, and our writers will be reminded of the weight phrases such as “Media Statement” or “Editorial” has on the reputation of UPC when used improperly.

Again, allow me to give a deep and sincere apology.  Utah Political Capitol will work hard to regain your trust and respect as we continue to provide timely, relevant, and interesting political news to the citizens of our state.

 

Sincerely,

 

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Curtis Haring

Editor-in-Chief

Utah Political Capitol

*Addendum: I have come to learn that the bulk email was not to our email list, but rather to a media contact list the author had access to. Though this information in no way changes my underlying message, I feel compelled to apologise to any members of the media or private individuals who may have received the email from Utah Political Capitol.  This only affirms and deepens my feelings that it was an inappropriate distribution.


One Reply to “A Message from the Editor-in-Chief: An Apology and Retraction”

  1. I received the information via Twitter. I thought that they were strange, but I re-tweeted them because I have come to trust UPC. It looks like I need to take a lesson as well.

    That said, I understand that every organization makes mis-steps. I believe that, when such mis-steps occur, it is important to acknowledge the mistake and take steps to ensure that the organization will not repeat the error. This letter of retraction and apology appears to meet those criteria.

    I will continue to rely on UPC as one of my primary sources of news about the Utah political scene.

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