I’m not ignoring your issue

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"My job requires trust between sources, readers and newspaper. You trust in the fact that what I write is true, my sources also rely on me telling the truth. Without trust the 4th estate would be powerless."

It takes time to write an article. Some stories take just a few minutes. I can write an event or ribbon cutting story in just a matter of minutes, I can write this column in about 15 minutes.

At the end of each news cycle, I begin listening and thinking on what it is I will write about the coming week. Some stories I have been working on for weeks previously, currently I have several that are “in progress” and those are the stories I want to talk about.

I got a call this week asking for an update on the assault case that stems from the former Louie’s Ice House fight. I get it, you want to know and with the recent news article last week regarding the Franklin Safari and it’s owner Jason Clay, it got everyone thinking about the previous case in relation.

So, what can I tell you about the Louie’s bar fight? Not much really, 1 person involved has signed a plea agreement and two others are awaiting trial. That’s it, no real new news to report. Now, we will cover the two trials that are coming up in May and June, but why tell a story now. I’m not going to speculate on the outcome or share confidential information that could hinder the trial. I’m not going to disclose my sources, but I can assure you when the case goes to court I will be in the courtroom to report the news.

I have several stories that are waiting for backing documentation. What is that? Simple, I don’t just write on what I hear or believe I know, I go get the proof and I do not have a story until that proof is in my hands.

I just wrote a piece on the Falls County Sheriff, Ricky Scaman, who is facing a law suit for sexual harassment. I did not use what the Waco Tribune had on their website or the local TV station, instead I worked with the Waco Tribune and obtained the supporting documents, which are on my desktop right now.

I contacted the attorney for the accused, got quotes, called the victims attorney, no response and wrote the article based 100% on facts presented by all parties concerned. That is the responsibility of the job.

How long did that take? About 7 hours from start to finish. The accused wanted to talk to me, the accuser did not. The court records are open to the public. Put the pieces together and you have facts that support the story. My opinion does not matter nor is it included. Do I think he did it? Is she lying? There is no supporting documents to draw any conclusions, that is for a court to decide, not me.

This is what I do for every article and so does my staff.

My job requires trust between sources, readers and newspaper. You trust in the fact that what I write is true, my sources also rely on me telling the truth. Without trust the 4th estate would be powerless.

You are always welcome to call me and ask, how much I can talk about can sometimes be limited, but it is never speculation. Sometimes I just can’t talk about it at all, and have found a local rumor mill will gear up to start embellishing, just look at many of the post of social media.

Last week we released a murder story, on social media only, regarding a murder trial that is coming up and stems from a 2017 shooting in Hearne. All the facts obtained from law enforcement, every piece of information I have is in that story, but just read the comments as the embellishments and speculation grows from one comment to the next. It’s crazy to sit back and watch it happen but strengthens my belief that social media is the source of fake news, not legitimate news media outlets.

It’s the game of telephone we all played as kids. Tell one person a story and let them tell another the story. Go through 10 people and hear the story again from the last person told and I promise the story you hear back will not be the same as the one you told.

I’m not ignoring issues, I’m working on them and when they are ready, fact checked, all parties interviewed that will be interviewed, then and only then will you read about it in your local newspaper. I’m saying I’m not perfect, none of us are, I’m just saying I won’t publish anything until I’m sure we have it right for you.

Until next week.

Dennis Phillips is the Publisher of the Robertson County News and Franklin Advocate in Robertson County, Texas

Robertson County News

114 W. 4th Street
Hearne, TX 77859

Phone (979) 279-3411
Fax (979) 279-5401
news@robconews.com