Published On: Fri, Apr 26th, 2013

For the Record

By Douglas Heizer

Last Friday, I answered the phone to the angry voice of Assistant City Manager Mike Woika, questioning a story two of my reporters had done on the city’s drinking water supply (Report Details Murky Drinking Water Violations). Woika insisted the reporting was “inaccurate and misleading”  and demanded that I print a retraction even an apology. Floored that this type of ire would come from a representative of the city I have grown to love, reside in and run my business, I took a deep breath and listened to his ranting. I gave in, saying I would remove the story from the Web site (I couldn’t do anything about the printed edition) and write a letter of apology to the city and my readers. My quickness to side with the assistant city manager haunted me all weekend. I looked over the document, met with the reporters and editor and shook my head in disbelief—disbelief because I had given in out of what I thought was required respect as a citizen, and then disbelief- because I hadn’t spoken with my reporters before I agreed with the city manager. I learned a hard lesson after speaking with the reporter and editor. As veteran journalists, they pride themselves on printing just the facts, no leaning. I looked at the Palm Beach County Health Department report, which listed five counts of violations from the city and shook my head.    I heard my editor’s words over and over again: “We are just a mirror.”  I reloaded the article on the Web site and skipped the apology. It’s no surprise that I received an e-mail Tuesday from the assistant city manager again expressing his displeasure because I had not removed the article; I hadn’t apologized, either. I’m offended that the assistant city manager attempted to stifle the press. Journalists go through great pains to make sure that their stories are accurate. Without the presence of a strong media, the city of Boca Raton has gone unchecked and unwatched for many years. As the paper of record, we are also the watchdog, as such we hope to give the citizens the information to continue to reside in a community seen throughout the world as a place for families and a hub for businesses. Stay tuned.

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