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I’m sorry

Published: Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013 11:48 a.m. CDT

I think we can all agree that we all have the occasional “bad day” at work. For most folks, the impact of those bad days is relatively limited.

I don’t have that luxury.

When I have a bad day, you probably all see the end result, even if you don’t realize it’s my bad day to blame. But they do happen, and they tend to happen more often than I would like (I mean, seriously, who wants to have a bad day?).

Such was the case a little more than a week ago when former Daily News reporter Dave Hon came into my office to speak with me about something that bothered him about the previous Friday night football game in Newton. I freely admit I gave him the green light to look into those concerns and to write about them.

That decision was based on very bad information. Had I done my own due diligence, I think I probably would have discovered the problem before it became a bigger one. But, I gave Dave wider lattitude than I should have.

The beauty of hindsight is that it is almost always perfect, especially when you use your missteps as learning opportunities. In this case, I have.

Had I known then what I know now, I can assure you Dave Hon’s column of Oct. 15 wouldn’t have appeared in the Daily News. It could be easy for some, I suppose, to try to deflect the blame and say, “Well, if the school officials we spoke to would’ve...”

But, that’s not the kind of newsroom I think we should be operating at the Daily News. When we screw up, we should take responsibility for it. And, when it comes to the happenings of the newsroom, the buck stops right here.

Moreover, even if what I believed to be true at the time Dave’s column was published really was, that column still shouldn’t have run. The tone in which it was conveyed is not the tone we expect of others who write to the opinion page, and it frequently painted with a wide brush, based entirely on an isolated event.

That column did run, though, and I can’t change that. All I can really say is that I’m sorry it did.

All too often, people in places of public trust give their mea culpa when in fact they’re only sorry they got caught. That’s not the case here. No one told me to write my column on this subject.

I do so freely because it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not sorry because it offended people. I’m not sorry because it made people angry. I’m not sorry because it damaged our credibility in the eyes of many. I’m not sorry because of any of that.

I am sorry all those things happened, but I’m saying “I’m sorry” because I failed to do my job. I failed to hold our staff to the same standards we try to hold everyone else up to. I failed to be an effective newsroom leader that day, and others suffered as a result.

Bottom line: I’m sorry because I let all of you down.

I don’t expect this column to make it “all better.” Not by a long shot. But my hope is that you will continue to observe that what I’ve written here today aren’t just words on a page. There is action behind them.

You will not see a column of that sort appear in this paper or any other for which I am editor. You will see our staff conduct themselves in the same manner in which we expect others to conduct themselves.

And if they have a problem with that, you can be assured I will deal with it swiftly.

I won’t let you down like this again.

• • •

If you ever do have a comment or concern, please be sure to call or email me directly. If you have a question and want to know how something is done, or why it was done a certain way, I would be more than happy to assist you.

My direct office phone number is (641) 792-3121, ext. 423. My email address is beschliman@newtondailynews.com.

• • •

Last Friday, while many of you were glued to the happenings of a group of Cardinals playing in Saylor Township, I was glancing occasionally to the happenings of another group of Cardinals three hours away.

In the annual Page County Super Bowl, which pits the Clarinda Cardinals against their archrival Shenandoah Mustangs, I had a little bit of a vested interest.

As has become a bit of tradition, I had a “friendly wager” going with former Des Moines Register “Iowa Boy” columnist — and my good friend — Chuck Offenburger.

Chuck is a Shenandoah alumnus. I’m a former Clarinda resident. The wager: if Shenandoah wins, I write a guest column for Offenburger.com. If Clarinda wins, he will write a guest column for the Daily News.

Clarinda won, 42-0.

So, be on the lookout for Chuck’s guest column in the near future. I believe he’s trying to flesh out some topics that would be of interest to folks in Newton and Jasper County as we speak.

• • •

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. if you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

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