EDITOR'S NOTE -- Sometimes even an apology isn’t enough - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Commentary

EDITOR'S NOTE -- Sometimes even an apology isn’t enough

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Posted: Sunday, July 19, 2009 11:00 pm

“I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”– Mahatma Gandhi

 

More coverage: To read an account of the circumstances surrounding the original piece, or to read the original story in its entirety (including photos) please click the links below...

WIGGS -- The story that wasn’t: One AFN reporter’s account of being duped on the job

ORIGINAL STORY --DV grad succeeds as up and coming chef (published online May 11, 2009, in print May 13, 2009)

Have a comment? Click here to send a letter to the editor

 

It’s one thing when your first-year reporter gets fooled, but when you’re the editor and are supposed to know better, well, that brings up a lot of issues.

Nevertheless, I come before you today with a story that might make some of you wonder how we could be so foolish. Regardless, it’s a humbling message that I need to deliver as editor of a paper I cherish and one that every person who picks up the Ahwatukee Foothills News deserves to hear: we messed up and we owe you an apology.On May 13 we ran a front-page feature that described the culinary exploits of a young man who seemed at the time to be off to a remarkable career. You can read the story by clicking here.

In short, the piece describes a 21-year-old Desert Vista graduate who had won a scholarship to a prestigious local cooking school, which then earned him a national chef award and also an impressive sous-chef job at a top Phoenix restaurant.

Unfortunately for us, and everyone involved really, none of it is true.

More embarrassing, personally, I was the staff photographer who had gone to the lad’s home and shot photos of him conjuring up a dish he called “Talapia Provencal.”

I couldn’t even say no when this charming young man, mother at his side, offered a finished plate complete with side dishes.

Talk about swallowing the lie.

Perhaps you will gain some insight as to how such a thing could happen when you read our reporter’s account in today’s Opinion section. And maybe you will appreciate that we have taken to heart Gandhi’s point on confessing our errors.

Moreover, and also in agreement with the Indian yogi, we’ve retraced our steps so that this – knock on wood – won’t ever happen again in the pages of the AFN.

Finally, I’d like readers to know that we have learned much from this embarrassing mistake and hope readers understand it didn’t occur because we don’t try, or care.

We also want the community to know that we have compassion for this young man who served us all a big slice of humble pie. And who knows? Maybe he’ll finally realize that his clever but untrue stories have real consequences that hurt more than just journalists, friends or family.

Maybe then he’ll understand what Gandhi was talking about.

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