Over the past week, numerous Humboldt Mirror readers have remarked on a North Coast Journal article in which reporter Bob Doran, covering a Tea Party meeting in Fortuna, quoted a woman he called Amy Wahlberg, who was reportedly booed and jeered for suggesting that health care is a right and not a privilege.
Discussion centered around the startling fact that many of us know Amy not as Wahlberg but Doran–Bob’s wife. That the quote in question appeared to reflect a bias manifested elsewhere in the story compounded the problem, and Bob’s clumsy attempt to conceal his wife’s identity obviously made things worse.
The good news? Publisher Judy Hodgson isn’t having any of it. From the current edition of the Journal comes this extraordinary–and appropriate–statement:
To Our Readers, an Apology
Two weeks ago a veteran member of our editorial staff made an error in judgment. He had offered to cover a controversial meeting in Fortuna–to take photos and report on the gathering he and his wife planned to attend anyway. It turned out his wife spoke at the meeting, the crowd reacted strongly and negatively, and he reported accurately on the exchange he considered pivotal to the coverage. Only he used her maiden name, one that she uses in her work as an artist and elsewhere.
Nevertheless, the intent was clear: to conceal or obscure her identity and to mislead readers. It was an ethical lapse we consider serious and we sincerely apologize.
The story, “Tea in Fortuna: Frightened patriots attempt to make sense of health care reform” by Bob Doran, is available on our Web site with an amended footnote. Doran has been the Journal’s arts and entertainment editor, covering all things cultural, since 1998.