Last weekend, there was an Associated Press article that ran on page A6 in The Frederick News-Post with a headline that said: Q&A: Democrats push to overturn ‘Obamacare’ during a pandemic.
Rightfully, that left many of our readers scratching their heads. Why would Democrats be trying to overturn something that they have championed since it became law in 2010? The Affordable Care Act, as it’s more formally known, was a signature piece of legislation by the Democrat-controlled House and Senate that was in turn signed by President Barack Obama — a Democrat.
If you were confused, hopefully you kept reading and soon learned that it is some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, who are in fact trying to overturn the law that ensures millions of Americans have health care.
Simply put, we messed up. It was an error on our end when trying to make the headline longer to fit the spot on the page. The original headline sent over from the AP was, “Q&A: Overturning 'Obamacare' during a pandemic.”
There was no mention of political parties in the headline and it clearly states in the article, “Amid a pandemic, President Donald Trump and some red states want the Supreme Court to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Blue states and the U.S. House say the case has no merit.”
Yes, mistakes happen, and we own up to them when we make them. We ran a correction on A2 Monday to report the error.
But this was a pretty obvious and frustrating one. We received more than a dozen phone calls, emails and messages on our Facebook page from readers wondering what happened. We started to respond to them, but we soon realized there were probably others who read Saturday’s article, who may or may not have seen the correction on Monday, and who also deserved a better explanation.
During these very trying times, we have a lot of our staff working remotely and we are stretched thin. This is not meant as an excuse, but simply a part of an explanation.
What it comes down to is proper editing that should have taken place here, but did not. When our team is designing pages at night, they are — rightfully so — focusing their efforts on our local content, because that is the heart of our mission.
But we cannot ignore the other pages. With AP content, we're usually not spending much time with the story because we know it has already gone through an editing process. However, this was a mistake we put into the headline and it should have been caught.
This error reminded us that we need to spend more time looking at pages once they've been designed and that is why we will go back to basics and make sure every page is looked over more carefully each night to catch mistakes like this.
Some readers asked if this was intentional. That was absolutely not the case.
The national news media has taken a hit in recent years. People have used words like slanted, biased, and more. There’s been another term used that I won’t even repeat here.
As the local news source of Frederick County, our reporters, photographers and editors strive to give you the news you need without bias. We take that promise very seriously and would not jeopardize your trust to make some kind of political statement about the national health care law.
I cannot guarantee that you won’t see any mistakes ever again, but I can assure you that we take this particular error — and the feedback we received in its aftermath — to heart.
We will continue to strive to give you fair, balanced and accurate content throughout our news pages each day.
Thanks for reading and we appreciate your continued support and understanding.
Pete McCarthy is a city editor at The Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.