On Wednesdays, Jewish Link editors spend the day reviewing multiple drafts, checking headlines, captions and spellings. It is almost exclusively on those days that we finalize our cover and editorial page headlines. Late last Wednesday afternoon, as violence erupted in the Capitol, we knew we’d have to rip out our planned front-page story and replace it with an up-to-the-moment article on the day’s frightening assault on Congress. In those brief 2-3 hours before our print deadline, we did our best to create a news story that could capture the fear of the violence that was only just unfolding in the heart of our nation’s government.
But we failed. By Thursday morning, five people were dead, including a Capitol police officer. Our print paper reflected a story with fewer deaths, less extremist rancor, no Twitter bans and no Holocaust T-shirt images. Those details had not been shared at that point.
As we went to press, details were sketchy and fraught with inaccuracies and shocking details, featuring many live feeds of our leaders in lockdown or in undisclosed locations, saying things we could not confirm. We were gathering facts, not writing an opinion piece. Our wire service reporter and editors were working furiously as well, but they, ultimately, filed their stories after we went to press.
We can’t change our stories in print after the paper goes to the printer. This is a fact of our industry. We updated the article online throughout the evening and into the next morning, but we know most people seeing our paper on Shabbat evening or morning were concerned at our having left out basic details that were confirmed by late evening on Wednesday, or equating the words of President-elect Joe Biden with the words of President Trump. But we ask you to understand we were only reporting the story as our factcheckers and wire services saw it, by Wednesday late afternoon. We faced the difficulties many papers faced during breaking news situations, tasked with our readers’ expectation of us getting everything 100% right, 100% of the time.
We acknowledge that we didn’t hit the mark this time. We thank you for your letters and calls, and we appreciate your understanding. We are also not afraid to shoulder your criticism and are proud that our active letters section is in top form this week. Our readers’ passion and erudition is indeed a hallmark of our community newspaper.
We look forward to a day of safety and healing for our nation, as we inaugurate our 46th president, Joe Biden. May all of our discussions and debates be l’shem shamayim (for the sake of heaven).