Here's a shorter version of the letter to the editor of the weekly in Plainview that I posted Wednesday. The Plainview News editor and publisher have agreed to publish this in their paper next week, so I've pulled down the earlier, lengthier post.
To the editor:
As Post-Bulletin managing editor, I’ve never had to complain to another paper about a news story. But the story regarding the Post-Bulletin in the Jan. 13 Plainview News was unfair and deserves a response.
The story on Page 3 was about the closing of Sandy Point Supper Club near Oronoco last December. The headline was, “Misleading information may have caused the demise of Sandy Point,” and the story allows restaurant manager Dick Jensch to take potshots at the Post-Bulletin, pinning the blame for its closing on our coverage.
The News basically convicts the P-B of journalistic sins, but the story isn’t explicit about what information we published that was misleading or incorrect. Why? Because our stories were accurate, and we gave the issue the Page One play it deserved. We covered a public issue -- the proposed rezoning of a well-known business site for a development that would have a major impact on the area -- in an accurate and responsible way.
The initial story last June was crystal clear on the fact that Sandy Point remained open for business. In the third paragraph, we reported that “it could be years until anything comes to fruition.” In the fourth paragraph, owner Charlie Brannon says, “We’re going to continue business as usual.”
After Jensch called us, we went out of our way to tell readers in our weekly restaurant column that Sandy Point remained open for business as usual. Later stories did, too.
The fact remained, however, that Brannon’s proposal was to replace Sandy Point with townhomes, and his engineering and design consultant was candid on that point. As it turned out, Brannon closed the restaurant on Dec. 31.
I talked with Brannon last summer and he raised no concerns about the accuracy or fairness of our coverage.
Jensch is entitled to his opinion about how the media coverage affected Sandy Point’s business. But for the News to publish his opinions as a news story, with inferences in reporting and editing that the P-B was at fault, was unfair, genuinely misleading and irresponsible.
Managing editor, Post-Bulletin