One could speculate on how the above made it into a newspaper – mischief, a prank gone awry, subliminal loathing of law enforcement – but of all the mistakes I’ve seen printed in newspapers over the years, and there have been many, this has to take the cake.
The comment was attributed to Hardin County Sheriff John Ward by the Elizabethtown (KY) News-Enterprise in a story that appeared on the front page of paper on Jan. 8. Ward denied making any such comment and stated that what he said was officers go into law enforcement “because they have a desire to serve the community.”
The paper, which retracted the statement, initially called the misquote a typographical error, but later blamed it on a production mistake.
The media blog jimromensko.com investigated and was told that two copy desk staffers – 23 and 32 years old – had been fired.
“One wrote the ‘shoot minorities’ line on the page proof as a joke and the second – in charge of the front page – put it in the story,” according to the blog.
It’s telling that reporter Anna Taylor was not fired. Editor Ben Sheroan explicitly stated in an editorial posted Thursday afternoon that Taylor was not responsible for the mistake.
“A function and process designed to rid the news pages of error instead added a terrible one that altered the reporter’s original sentence,” Sheroan stated. “No reasonable excuse can exist.”
Ward said the interview was conducted with another member of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office present and there was no part of the interview that mentioned any related comments.
“I have served in law enforcement for 30 years and have never known any officers that had these motives,” he said in post on the department’s Facebook page.
One imagines folks at a certain central Kentucky newspaper have been pouring over their media liability insurance policy quite closely the past day or two.