There is no other way to explain a recent story in The Laurinburg Exchange in which we wrote that Laurinburg resident Joyce Davis had addressed City Manager Charles Nichols III as “Little child” during a Laurinburg City Council meeting.
Our reporter Nolan Gilmour, who hails from Winnipeg, Canada, truly believed he had gotten Davis’ words down correctly.
What Davis told us she actually said was “Little Charlie,” a term of endearment that Davis said she has called Nichols since he was a child.
We have apologized privately to Davis and Nichols. We also want to do so publicly. We are sorry. It was not our intention to cause the resulting headaches for Davis or any embarrassment to Nichols.
Our goal was to provide readers with an accurate portrayal of city council meetings that can often be filled with divisive and raucous comments by the public and those on council.
Journalism is not an exact science. Reporters make mistakes and editors sometimes compound those errors.
But we also want to be quick to correct those slip ups with the same degree of openness and honesty that we expect from the subjects we cover.
That is why after talking with Davis, we placed a correction in the next day’s newspaper and updated the story in our online edition.
In a separate bit of housekeeping, we have also asked Laurinburg Mayor Matthew Block, who writes a bi-weekly column for the opinion page, to do so in a different tone.
The original intent of the column was for the mayor to share needed information with residents. But more often than not, the column is used to criticize council members and other county officials that Block disagrees with. When we reserve him space, and he uses it to criticize other officials, it suggests our endorsement, which we are uncomfortable with.
The mayor will have the option of writing a letter to the editor if he opposes a policy or action by county leaders. He may also speak to a reporter about writing a balanced story where all sides are represented.
This newspaper wants to hold our leaders accountable. But we also want to do it in a manner that is impartial, fair — and above all correct.