Special to WeHo News by Editor Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
Most of you are going to scratch your heads over this, but bear with – you can follow it even without specifics.
Yesterday, on March 31, 2015, I published an article that had no business being written, let alone being published.
The subject of the article was what I mistook as pushback during negotiations over the use of the Pacific Design Center for a set of video interviews of the four city council candidates standing in the June election.
I took two sentences forming a question and read more into it than existed.
I failed to get clarification before moving forward.
I reacted emotionally and not rationally.
I messed up, and messed up big time.
I owe several people apologies, but the two most harmed I have spoken to to make those apologies and to make amends for my actions.
I’ll sully no further the reputation of the campaign manager or of the campaign by making explicit their name.
The man needlessly harmed by the story, Steve Afriat, was not the subject of paranoia, as I wrote.
That was a supposition I made, one made in haste and through an unchecked biased prism, the one that presumed that this campaign shared the undeservedly venomous attitude against Mr. Afriat that has surfaced over the past three years.
I failed Mr. Afriat.
I failed that campaign.
I failed the city.
I failed myself.
Now, we in the media are as human as the next guy, but the next guy has every right to expect certain standards in their publications.
According to Warren Ellis, “You’re miserable, edgy and tired. You’re in the perfect mood for journalism.”
I beg to differ; as fun as is the quip, the truth could not be further away from that.
Righteousness need not be wrought miserably, watchdogs do little watching when tired and judgment frayed by nerves is bad judgment.
The story I wrote came out the way it did in large part because of two of those reasons and another couple to boot.
It does not take a superhuman to do the news, just a decent, critical mind that watches out for the pitfalls that trip us all up on occasion.
Sometimes we write something when we’re not at our best (or have lost sight of our best for the moment), or because we fail to set the story aside for a few minutes to fully cook before publishing.
The practice of community-based news differs greatly from the big city adversarial journalism as practiced in most major urban centers.
It require a delicacy, a tact, because the person you hold accountable for less than savory actions may one day need help exposing another wrong.
It requires an understanding that all of the people you cover are doing their best. Covering them with compassion is far more important than lecturing, hectoring or with snide innuendo.
I speak my mind. Readers will seldom wonder where I stand. I believe that unless I’m pissing people off, I’m not doing my job.
Except that pissing people off for no reason at all is bad form in the extreme.
Journalists are supposed to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
I afflicted yesterday for the sake of afflicting. I am not proud of it.
I deserve a healthy haranguing, and since no one else can really do it as well as I, I have donned the hair shirt.
Journalists have nothing at all to offer readers but their integrity, their word.
Mine today is not quite so shiny as it once was, but shinier than during my days as a dissolute. Maybe with time I can buff this ding out.
I apologize to you all for my lapse, and promise to do my level best to avoid a repetition.
“Journalism will kill you, but it will keep you alive while you’re at it.” Horace Greeley