The letter, which I will not reproduce here in its entirety, began with "The Bessemer Neighborhood Association would like to inform you of the activity of the tenants of *** Owen Avenue, Bessemer."
It continued, making accusations of illegal drug activity and sales, truancy, vandalism, and animal cruelty. The letter named 4 people, and described two vehicles and gave their tag numbers and addresses where the people live.
From the paper, "People believed to be involved in illegal drug sales and theft: 'person 1', 'person 2', 'person 3' and 'person 4'.
Tag numbers of cars involved: 'AL tag # 1' and 'AL tag # 2'. "
The letter also said copies were being sent to community leaders, and ended with "We strongly encourage you to take action."
Where do I begin. First and foremost, the Bessemer Neighborhood Association did not write, authorize, or suggest that this letter be written. Furthermore, the officers of the association are not aware of the activities mentioned in the letter.
The Bessemer Neighborhood Association's mission is to improve the quality of life in Bessemer, but trying to do this with slanderous accusations is not in our methods list and we feel that the printing of this letter will be counterproductive to our efforts.
We were promised an apology yet the attempt that was printed in yesterday's paper falls short. Here is the apology as it appeared in the June 18, 2008 Western Star:
The Western Star did not follow the company policy on running letters to the editor when a letter ran in the June 4, 2008 edition from the The Bessemer Neighborhood Association. The newspaper apologizes to those mentioned in the letter for any inconvenience or problems that the letter may have caused them.
Dale Jones, the editor, knows that the Bessemer Neighborhood Association did not send the letter. He knows that we feel a letter of this type will be counterproductive and will undercut our efforts to improve things in Bessemer. Yet his "apology" states that the letter was from our association. The apology says that "he" did not follow company policy when running "our" letter, indicating that the problems with the letter were ours. They were not, because the letter was not ours.
Those are the facts. This is the opinion. Dale Jones should not be running a newspaper. Already, we have documented plagarism by Jones, and now a breach of ethics and professionalism. Any newspaper editor who would:
- print a letter that defames individuals with no basis
- would print such a letter without verifying its authenticity
- would print a letter from an organization without an individual letter writer's name
- would print such a letter without even getting the name of the person who sent it (so he claims)
- would print a letter that endangers individuals,
...should not be editing a newspaper. He should be relieved of his duties.
This newspaper is owned by Bob Tribble of Trib Publications, PO Box 648, Manchester GA, 31816. 706-846-4336.