“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)
Many of you are aware of the story that we published a couple of weeks ago about Jeff Waters, the former Sapulpa man who told us (and the world) that his use of cannabis had worked wonders for his COPD, and helped him get completely off his other medicines.
Even now, the story stands apart as an inspiring testimony to the healing powers of cannabis, and will undoubtedly be one of many stories you’ll hear as we get closer to November.
But is the story true? The truth is, we have no evidence to say it’s not, but based on what’ve learned since publishing that story, we’re strongly suspicious. So much so, that we’ve amended that story with a healthy warning to the readers.
Nevertheless, we did not do our due diligence when researching for that story, and we reaped what we had sewn, a hundred-fold. Scores of emails, phone calls and messages poured in from folks who knew people who had dealt with Waters, or who had dealt with him themselves firsthand, and wanted to make sure that the public knew what they all perceived to be the truth about the man: that he is a liar and scam artist who preys on sick and disabled people.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I truly jumped the gun to get that story out, and made several critical mistakes and errors in judgement that have likely cost me what is supposed to be a journalist’s greatest asset: trust.
In this world of Fake News and clickbait, Sapulpa Times has strived these last three years to provide stories that are relevant to Creek County, and we diligently try to avoid being labeled with that all-too-common “F word” that you’ll find in our President’s Twitter Feed.
Or I should say that we did, until two weeks ago.
While I make no excuses for the extreme oversight, I can only attempt to explain myself by saying that my desire to get the “other side” of the SQ788 story out outweighed my good sense to read up on someone before publishing. After all, I told myself, another news station did a story on him, too!
And the response was incredulous, to say the least. “If you weren’t the Publisher of this ‘newspaper,’ I’d have you fired,” said one reader. Ouch. The implied sarcasm on the quotes around ‘newspaper’ added insult to the injury. At this point though, I feel it’s well-deserved.
Truth be told, though it’s a bitter pill to swallow, I’m grateful. See, the power of a free press only goes so far as that the words being published be the truth, and as much of the truth as we can find. Dozens of you cared enough about the truth to ensure that we got the whole story, and many of you not-so-gently chided us for not doing a better job of uncovering that truth.
And so I say, “I’m sorry,” and “Thank you,” with all the gravitas I can muster at this humble moment. Thank you, for caring enough to let us know. We’ll do better in the future.
Publisher, Sapulpa Times