A small town newspaper in North Carolina, the Cherokee Scout, submitted two public records requests to the local Sheriff's office for a list of local citizens with gun permits. The sheriff denied those requests, and a local PR nightmare for the paper ensued. What followed was a capitulation from the newspaper so thorough as to terrify.
The full text of the apology is below, but here's a taste: "Sheriff Keith Lovin had the best interests of the people of Cherokee County at heart when he denied our request."
NOTE TO READERSText taken from jimromenesko.com. Image of the apology letter from the paper's site.
The Cherokee Scout made a tremendous error in judgment this week, and thanks to our readers we learned a tough lesson.
As publisher of your local newspaper, I want to apologize to everyone we unintentionally upset with our public records request for a list of those who have or have applied for a concealed carry permit. We had no idea the the reaction it would cause.
Sheriff Keith Lovin had the best interests of the people of Cherokee County at heart when he denied our request. The Scout would like to offer an apology to him as well.
To that end, Editor Robert Horne spoke with Lovin on Friday morning to tell him we were withdrawing our public records request. He asked for a written copy of request, and Horne dropped it off at his office that morning.
While Horne was on the phone with the sheriff, he also thanked him and his staff for their quick response when some people who saw Facebook posts started making personal threats against him. Horne also requested a sit-down meeting in the near future to iron out any issues between the Scout and the sheriff’s office, which Lovin graciously accepted.
I realize many people are upset with Horne, myself and the Scout and we can understand that. We never meant to offend the wonderful people of this fine community nor hurt the reputation of this newspaper. We do a lot of positive work that helps make Cherokee County an even better place to live, and I hope more good work will repair our reputation with readers.
Many of you have asked where Horne is from. He is from a small town in south Georgia — Cairo, Ga., to be exact. It is a rural area much like Murphy, and his roots are helping him better understand this community. [He has been editor of the paper since 2005.]
As for myself, I attended Murphy High School. I was married and baptized here, and three of my children are proud Bulldogs. This county has been important to me for a long time.
I know where this community is coming from, and I hope we can regain your trust. I know it may take a while, but we’re going to try. Thanks for reading.
Publisher David Brown