12-07-2017 Letters and Commentary

WHEN IN DOUBT LEAVE IT OUT … was the first thing I learned from Publisher Tom Sadler 42 years ago. I had just hired on as associate editor at the Capac Journal and Tom was giving me some guidelines to start.

I recall him telling me today’s news would be replaced with something else tomorrow and that it was more important to get it right than to get it in the paper.

Tom, who published the Journal and the Almont Times Herald, mentored me and helped me avoid many of the pitfalls all journalists are threatened by.

He advised that while the news changed rapidly (and continually) erroneous news lingered much longer. Thus the axiom, coined by me and passed on to all the writers I’ve worked with, “when in doubt, leave it out.”

Sadly, the rule doesn’t always save us from printing “wrong” news. Tighter deadlines, more news sources, less reliable news sources, new technology, and the social media are all contributing factors in publishing “wrong” information.

Then the second rule kicks in, when there is an error in the paper correct it as soon as possible upon being aware of it. Never expect it to just fade away, Tom advised.

Own up to your “our” mistakes, take the hit and move on, has always been my advice to anyone, reporter or public official. Errors, untruths, misrepresentation never goes away. Like a pesky wound in a rough spot, it never heals on its own.

Like a wound treated immediately and correctly, mistakes soon heal and are forgotten.

That’s something so many of our political leaders, unfortunately, forget. They deny, lie, obfuscate, instead of owning up to the error and moving on.

We all remember President Richard Nixon saying on television, “I am not a crook.” Few of us as easily recall all the wonderful things he did as president.

NEW FEATURE… Thanks to Bryan and Jan Conrad, owners of the Watervliet Hardware, there is a weather forecast panel on the front page. Actually the occasion is two firsts… not only is the weather forecast panel a first for the Record, it is also the first time there is a weekly ad on the front page.

I hope you find the weather forecast of interest and useful. By the way, the seven-day forecast comes direct from the National Weather Service for the Watervliet zip code.

BEST FALL EVER… Here it is the first week of December and the cold weather is just now upon us. I guess that’s little comfort if you’re still working outside or there’s snow to be shoveled or any of those other things we have to deal with here in Michigan.

Even so, I think this has been the best fall ever, even if the last couple of weeks are more like winter. This past weekend, I heard lawnmowers running not snow throwers. Even the most diehard procrastinators got their holiday lights up wearing sweatshirts or light jackets.

There were fishermen most every day in Hays Park, as well as kids on the skate park ramps and playing basketball. Thanksgiving weekend our visiting grandkids visited Randall Park and spent time playing on the “castle” there and the swings.

Despite the TV commercials touting the winter wonders of Pure Michigan, the seasonal entertainment has been decidedly summerlike right to this week; in my mind, that’s not bad at all.

MERRY CHRISTMAS… despite the lack of snow, the Christmas spirit was alive and well in downtown Watervliet Sunday. The sidewalks were filled with families watching the parade and then most followed it to the Arclight Brewery to visit with Santa.

It was fun to see so many little ones and their excitement to see the parade and then San