By Scott Tibbs, February 17, 2010
In an article about Marty Hawk's announcement that she is running for re-election this year, the Herald-Times reported that "Hawk, who first began serving on the council in 1988, serves in District 3."
This is a classic example of something that is factually correct, and yet not true.
Hawk did serve on the county council starting in 1988, but she was not re-elected in 1992. She did not run again until 1998, when she was elected in District 3. She was re-elected in 2002 and 2006. The statement that Hawk "began serving on the council in 1988" would lead any reasonable person to believe she has served continuously since 1988. That is not true. She has served (admirably, by the way) 16 years, not 22 years.
This error should never have been published, especially since it is so easily fact-checked. The statement, while factually correct, was sloppily written and would have been much better had the reporter wrote "Hawk served from 1988 to 1993 and from 1999 to present," or something to that effect.
Predictably, Leftists attacked me when I pointed this out in the comments, whining that Hawk's 2006 campaign site contains the statement that "since 1988 Marty has served on the Monroe County Council." Of course, Hawk's site also states that she had served for 13 years, making it obvious that she did not serve continually from 1988 to 2006.
Ultimately, the H-T is responsible for what the H-T publishes.
If I told a reporter it is 100 degrees outside today and the H-T published that in tomorrow's paper, the H-T is at fault for printing the factual error. It is my error too, of course, but that does not absolve the Herald-Times of the responsibility to engage in basic fact-checking. You know - the basic job of a journalist. If the "reporters" at 1900 South Walnut were actually doing their job, this misleading statement would never have been published no matter what Hawk said.