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The Rest of the story..........
March 16, 2010 - Pat Beck
The rest of the story…..
The Leader-Herald published a story on a contentious email that was sent by Broadalbin-Perth school board member Ed Szumowski to his fellow board members and Superintendent Stephen Tomlinson.
It basically was an email directing what should be taught in a classroom on American liberties. Read the March 16th edition of this newspaper for the complete story.
Many will say that we got “beat out” on this story by another local newspaper.
We didn’t get “beat out.” What we did get was the bum’s rush from Szumowski and Superintendent Tomlinson when questioned.
Two weeks ago, I personally received an anonymous letter. Ninety-nine of the time, these letters go into the basket but this appeared with a copy of what looked to be an official email from Superintendent Tomlinson forwarded to others.
Managing Editor Tim Fonda, assigned a reporter to “get the facts.” And that is where we hit a wall.
Our reporter did his homework, went online and watched the YouTube video in question. Yes, it did exist. Mr. Tomlinson was contacted. When questioned over the incident, he refused to comment. He refused to answer any questions regarding his forwarding of the email, never said he didn’t and to paraphrase, told us it was not our business.
Not our business? Now, it is my turn: “no comment!”. The public should be the judge of whether this is our business or not.
Why, you might be asking, did we not publish the story prior to all of this becoming public at a board meeting?
Because we could not get anyone involved to be honest and open enough to own up to the facts presented.
If Mr. Szumowski believed so strongly in what primary values should be taught to BP students, that he gave it out as a directive, that the superindent followed his request by forwarding the email, why on earth would he not stand behind his actions? The fact was and is that they both did do it, but apparently just felt it was ok to apologize after the fact.
We could not get those contacted to be accountable for their actions.
You may question the fact that we had a copy of the email from Mr. Tomlinson. Why didn’t we report that right away?
That was the problem: it was a copy, and in this day and age it is possible to make a facsimile of any document. We needed verification.
As a newspaper, we are obligated to verify authenticity.
Let me say, that it all would have helped tremendously if the individual, who did the right thing, would have identified himself or herself, so that we could have started from there.
It takes time to report accurately, time that we will continue to take, and yes it can result in being “beat” with a story.
It also takes elected or appointed public officials responding truthfully when asked a question. And that is an expectation that everyone should have, not just this newspaper.
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