The Union publisher runs a correction that needs to be corrected

The Union publisher ran a correction in his column this Friday about misquoting Nevada City council woman Reinette Senum, but he sidestepped the newspaper’s responsibility for the fake news. No apology, either.

Publisher Don Rogers wrote: “Correction: In last week’s column, I included a local politician’s claims about the Keystone protest as reported in November. I didn’t realize she had corrected one about a water cannon blowing off a protester’s arm to say later it was a concussion grenade. A grand jury is investigating whether it was a device used by law enforcement or a homemade explosive made by protesters. The injured protester has not lost her arm.”

“She had corrected” … “to say later.” Huh? The Union reporter misquoted Senum. “I was witness to her call to the Union and the call/email corrections,” added Jennifer Robin on Facebook, where the issue was aired.

The background is here:

On December 2, in a front page article in The Union titled “Nevada County residents stand with Standing Rock,” the newspaper misquoted local Senum in egregious fashion. The Union quoted her as saying “They blew a woman’s arm off with a water cannon,” when she said it was a “concussion grenade.”

When the misquote first appeared, Senum wrote to The Union reporter pointing out the error in the original December 2 report — along with other mistakes. She said in an email to the reporter: “The water protector lost her arm by a concussion grenade, not a water canon. … I was pulled over 2 miles from the South Dakota border not 2 miles from Standing Rock. I have not witnessed SR growing from 1,000 to 8.000. I have only been here for a week. I believe the number is around 6,000 and it fluctuates. I did not secure the rental car. It was already secured. Never said protestor camps. They are water protectors standing in prayer and in ceremony. Could u please correct this online?”

The newspaper still owes Senum an apology — and it owes the community an explanation of how such egregious errors could be made.

The Union columnist George Boardman also parroted the “fake news” on his blog. He “unpublished” the post, although more than two months had passed since it ran. The article has been indexed by Google.

“After the original story was published, Senum informed the reporter that she said the woman was injured by a concussion grenade, not a water cannon, and cited several other errors in the reporting of the story,” Boardman wrote. “Based on The Union’s original reporting, I criticized Senum for lying about the incident in an effort to advance her political agenda. I apologize for my erroneous criticism.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

6 thoughts on “The Union publisher runs a correction that needs to be corrected”

  1. It was very poor form for the publisher not to Include Councilwoman Senum’s name in the Union’s correction.
    I would hope it was not also graceless.
    We may not always agree on everything in this county but we need to be big about it.
    That goes double for a person in Mr. Roger’s position as guardian of the truth in our newspaper.

    1. He did not name her by name in the original post, although it was clearly a reference to her. It was a graceless correction lacking any accountability, to be sure. I had expected more. Of the parade of publishers I’ve seen since we’ve lived here (four in 10 years), the most professional was Dave Schmall. Otherwise, podunk.

  2. Golly, so the whole thread started and ended with a sly reference?
    Wouldn’t it have been better journalism to be completely open and transparent in the first place?
    What I would like to know is how Sophia Wilansky’s arm is now, if it is still in pain and having surgeries and if it will ever function normally again.
    Isn’t that what is important here?

    1. Well, according to Rogers, “The injured protester has not lost her arm.” Is that like the “glass is half full”? Unbelievable.

  3. Rachel Corrie, Tiananmen Square Unknown, Yvonne Oakes, Reginald Denny, the list of injured or dead goes on.
    These big protests can be dangerous places.
    We can all mitigate the need for them by practicing better uses of our natural resources.

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ” – Margaret Mead

    Sometimes Jeff, that means the daily votive of conservation, and in that way the small group will grow into a force for positive environmental improvement..

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