Eagle Tribune owes readers an explanation



April, 2009

David Sullivan cartoon-april-2009Last month, The Eagle~Tribune website reported that a suitcase with a cell phone taped to it was left on the steps of Lawrence District Court with a note that read “Call police, call the Tribune, call Tom Duggan”. (Tom Duggan is editor of The Valley Patriot).

The story was picked up by dozens of other news media outlets, repeating on television, radio and on the web that the note left at the scene said “Call police, call the Tribune, call Tom Duggan.”

Shortly before 5pm that day, however, The Eagle Tribune changed their story on the web concerning the contents of the note with no explanation and no reference to what they had previously reported.

This second version of The Eagle Tribune story claimed that the bomb note read “Call police, call the media”.

There was no mention of Tom Duggan’s name being previously reported on the bomb note, there was no explanation given nor did they admit that a mistake had been made. It wasn’t the first time the Eagle Tribune had incorrectly reported a story about our Valley Patriot editor and refused to come clean about the real facts. But at this point nobody knows for sure if their first story was correct and they purposely removed Duggan’s name from the story or, it was incorrect and they just refuse to explain the disparity in their reporting.

As if that wasn’t confusing enough for the public, (not to mention the person whose name was reportedly ON A BOMB NOTE) the Tribune actually printed a third version of the bomb note story claiming on April 1 st that the note read “contact the FBI, the bomb squad and all news channels.”

We at The Valley Patriot are well aware that mistakes happen and everyone is human. But three different versions of the same story being published with no correction, no explanation, and no clarification as to why this happened is no longer a mistake. It is a cover up and one that defamed the editor of our newspaper.

Shortly before we went to print, The Valley Patriot was informed by a member of the state police as well as the Lawrence Police department that Valley Patriot editor Tom Duggan’s name was NOT left on the bomb note and that The Eagle~Tribune had, at best misrepresented the facts or at worst, simply made up that part of the story.

If it sounds like you’ve heard this story before you have. Last year when a young man died in a car accident the Eagle published a story blaming Duggan for spreading rumors about that boys death, causing immeasurable pain for their family.

We believe that when a newspaper or media outlet (including this one) gets a major fact in a news story incorrect they should correct the information, explain why it was reported incorrectly and if warranted, an apology be issued. 

None of that happened here. In fact, the editors of The Tribune just go on with their day to day operations, pretending as if nothing ever happened, no story was changed and no wrong has occurred.

As of the minute this newspaper went to print, nobody at The Eagle has ever bothered to correct the record or explain exactly why there are now three different versions of this story.

We believe The Eagle Tribune editors owe Tom Duggan and their readers a public explanation about their reporting on this story.