November 4, 2011

Apology for a serious error

BY ANTHONY RONZIO Editor and Publisher

The Kennebec Journal made a grave error on Thursday. A story that appeared in our local section left an incorrect, misleading impression about Amanda Fontaine, and we offer her our deepest apologies.

The story, republished from the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Massachusetts, discussed criminal charges leveled against Fontaine in that state. The story was first published Aug. 27, 2010; it was presented Thursday to Kennebec Journal readers, however, as if it were new information.

Since that story appeared, the case against Fontaine has been closed. She had her time in court, pleaded guilty, served probation and made restitution. That this crucial information about the disposition of Fontaine's case was not presented to readers on Thursday is inexcusable.

We published a story that was more than a year old without following the basic tenets of responsible journalism to verify it for accuracy. By doing so, we've cast a person in this community in a deplorable light that is completely and totally of our making.

On behalf of the staff of the Kennebec Journal, I offer my sincerest apologies to Amanda Fontaine, her family and her friends.

No newspaper is perfect. Typos and grammatical sins are commonplace. I've met and spoken with dozens of readers whose eagle eyes catch such blemishes and let us know we can do better. Each time, I've vowed to them we will do better.

Clearly, the mistake we made on Thursday is far more serious than a typo or flawed sentence construction. Yet my vow to the readers of the Kennebec Journal remains just as resolute: We will do better. Our mistake of Thursday should not have happened.

It is my pledge nothing this severe ever happens again.

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