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Editing error miscasts fight victims

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 1:42 a.m. CDT

We always want to get the story right. That is the most basic obligation we have to our community, and to our sources. Unfortunately, in Tuesday’s newspaper, we made a significant mistake.

The story was about a late Saturday brawl outside a restaurant in Sterling that left two brothers injured. As our reporter was gathering information for the story, she spoke to Whiteside County Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi to see how the investigation was progressing. During that conversation, Wilhelmi said that “from what I understand, they’re both pretty good kids.” He also said, very specifically, that he did not believe the brothers were gang members.

The reporter got the story right. But in the next step of our production process – the editing process – we made a very regrettable error. As a copy editor made adjustments in how the story was organized, the word “not” was accidentally deleted.

That, of course, totally changed the meaning of the sentence. It put words into Sheriff Wilhelmi’s mouth that he didn’t say. The end result was that Wilhelmi’s comments were misrepresented, causing the two brothers to be characterized in a very unfavorable and unfair way.

We truly regret this mistake and want to set the record straight. We hope that our readers – and especially the two brothers – accept our apology.

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