Letter from the editor: Owning and correcting our mistakes

Evan Heichelbech is the College Heights Herald Editor-in-Chief for Fall 2018 and Spring 2019.

Evan Heichelbech

On Tuesday, an article appeared in the print version of the Herald titled “Board of Regents spending budget exceeds $100,000”, and the same version of that story appeared on our website until this afternoon. 

I removed this story from the website because it contained several inaccuracies, and as more people read it, more people were likely to be misinformed, which is precisely counter to what a piece of journalism should do. 

The intention and original thought behind publishing this story was to present the Board of Regents budget in order to understand where and how its money is being spent.  

Unfortunately, some of the facts gleaned from the budget, which was obtained via an open records request to the university, were not presented in an accurate, understandable or straightforward way.

For the sake of transparency, I am presenting all of the errors we are aware of at this time. 

The corrections currently called to our attention which need to be made are the following: 

  • Regents appointed by the governor serve six-year terms. They can be re-appointed for a second six-year term. 
  • The governor did not call a meeting of the Board of Regents in Louisville. Rather, it was training session required by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. 
  • Julia McDonald’s title is assistant to the president for board and executive relations. 
  • The article incorrectly says regents receive worker’s compensation.
  • While the board approves any changes in academic programs, the provost, who is not a regent, oversees academic affairs. 
  • The article implies that regent George Nichols, who lives out of state, is reimbursed for his flights to attend meetings. Nichols is not reimbursed for his travel expenses. State law states that regents who are from out of state are not reimbursed. 

After hearing about these inaccuracies and reading the story again, I, along with the reporter and section editor assigned to this story, decided it was best to remove the story and correct these errors before re-publishing the story. 

As we were putting together the print version of this week’s Herald on Monday, we experienced some unforeseen hurdles, and the deadline to send the paper to the printer was quickly approaching. 

The combination of these things, among others, led to the Regents budget story being rushed and included in the paper in an incomplete and inaccurate form. 

Regardless of these factors, there are no valid excuses for me or anyone on behalf of the Herald to make for this unfortunate mistake. 

This is unacceptable by our standards, and it should be unacceptable to our readers as well. We strive to be as accurate and forthcoming as possible, which is why I am writing this letter to our readers now. 

While it is impossible to amend and correct the March 12 print version of this story as it currently appears, I promise we will do everything necessary to correct our errors in the online version and publish this story both in print and on the web when it is ready and fit to do so. 

Clarifications for these errors will be included in the March 19 edition of the Herald, and this letter will also run on page A4 of that same paper. 

Ultimately, as the Editor-in-Chief, I am responsible for every word published in the newspaper and on the website for the College Heights Herald. 

This is a responsibility that I both understood and accepted when I was selected to serve in this position, and I am doing my absolute best to ensure that I uphold it now and in the future. 

Again, I apologize for this unfortunate, costly lapse in judgment and I am sincerely committed to ensuring that we can remain a reliable and constant source of news for WKU and the greater Bowling Green community moving forward. 

Editor-in-Chief Evan Heichelbech can be reached at 270-745-5504 and [email protected]. Follow Evan on Twitter at @evanheich