I have a long-standing joke about working at a newspaper: When other folks make a mistake on the job, they go on about their business. But when we who report news make a mistake on the job, we print it in the newspaper. In this case, on the front page.
Last week we reprinted a press release that had originally come to the newspaper from the East Mountain Interagency Fire Protection Association—last June. It said there was a small fire which had broken out just below the crest of the Sandias on the west side of the mountain.
In our overcautious approach to the fire season this year, when that email popped up in my inbox at 9:30 p.m. or so as an “unread” email just as the newspaper went to press, I did not notice the date, and we printed it as breaking news.
The Dog Head Fire last year took a toll on this newspaper, and the memories are fresh.
Like many of you, those of us who own and work for The Independent live in and around the East Mountains, and the effects of that fire touched most of us directly. This year, after a warm and dry winter, we are extra concerned about the danger of fire in the area. As the weather warms up and bring the spring winds, fire danger is at the forefront of my mind.
All of these pieces came together in a colossally wrong front-page story, and a great lesson: Double check. Triple check. Verify. Check again. We deeply regret the error.