Honesty the best policy

CJ-2011-FLOYD-MUG-Casual-1CThe phones at the Chickasaw Journal rang regularly Wednesday as you called to point out we got the time change wrong on Page One last week.

While the headline read “Spring forward,” the copy said to fall back one hour for daylight savings time.

And though we didn’t think it was very funny, we had a number of you laugh with us about the mistake.

As with no other medium, it was printed, held in your hand and there in the black-and-white form of a newspaper. We couldn’t deny what you heard or saw, like some folks. It was not gone in 30-seconds but unfolded on your kitchen table, laying on your desk at work or neatly folded on the sink in that “special room” in your house.

We were caught. We did not try to deny it. We admitted our fault and will work harder to never let it happen again.

We don’t claim to be perfect at the Chickasaw Journal, but we do claim to be honest.

 

Tell the truth

 

A college professor once told me that honesty was a vastly over-rated value.

He meant it when he said it, and went on to say the ends justified the means, we sometimes get “orders” to spout the company line and in the business world profit was the bottom line and not morals or ethics.

And he was standing in a classroom at Mississippi State University just 30 short miles from here.

This came as a shock to Mary and Floyd Ingram’s boy who had been raised to always tell the truth, no matter what it cost and no matter how much it hurt.

That was also more than 30 years ago. I was a freshman at “Moo U” and daddy had warned me about folks like that.

Today there are households in Chickasaw County where it is Ok to lie to police, teachers and next-door-neighbors. There are businesses that chase a dollar and that’s the soul goal of opening the doors each morning. And there are elected officials who work hard to tread that narrow line between truth and a lie and sometimes step over on the wrong side.

Sadly, Professor Hill’s statement – while just as warped now as it was then – probably rings true in the ears of many more in our world today.

Education can be a great thing. I am just glad I learned at an early age the value of telling the truth.

 

Church friends

 

Church can be a tough place for a journalist.

People want to talk to you. Hand you something for the paper. Get you to cover a story. Some even want to pay a bill. All that doesn’t leave much time for the Lord.

I bumped into a local lawyer Sunday morning who was grinning over the daylight-savings-time mistake.

“Remember this, Floyd,” he said with a wicked smile. “I doctor’s mistakes go to the graveyard. A lawyer’s mistakes go to jail. A journalist’s mistake goes on the front page for all the world to see!”

I still don’t understand what he thought was so funny.

 

Positive journalism

 

I love my job and realize the things I write can embarrass people.

It can be as simple as spelling a child’s name wrong in a photo caption or as big as saying someone has been charged with murder or worse. Both bring shame on me, this newspaper and someone else.

That is why good journalist take their job so seriously.

The positive side of last weeks snafu was it told us people read the Chickasaw Journal and they read it closely.

We got two words wrong in a single line of copy tucked away in a corner on Page One.

Most who called laughed and just wanted to make sure we knew what had happened. Some were irate and pointed out we were just stupid. We thanked all callers for reading and urged them to call us any time they read something in their Chickasaw Journal they liked or didn’t like.

Lisa Voyles, myself and everyone at your Chickasaw Journal who writes down information for this paper works very, very hard to get it right.

You see, we go to church with you. You teach our children. We shop in your stores. We live next to you and see you around town on a regular basis.

And the only way we can look you in the eye is if we work very hard to spell it right, photograph it clearly and report the facts as they happen in your city and county.

Because the only way you continue to invite us into your home is if we tell you the truth.

That’s what makes this newspaper valuable to this community.

 

Floyd Ingram is Managing Editor/News for the Chickasaw Journal. He can be reached at 456-3771 or via email at floyd.ingram@journalinc.com

 

 

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