MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A news article and an opinion piece in the Roseau Times-Region about a proposed assisted-living facility were inaccurate and unfair, the Minnesota News Council ruled this week.
The News Council found that the Times-Region wrongly reported March 11 that the City Council had refused to allow a developer to place an assisted-living facility in a residential neighborhood. In fact, the council was considering a request for rezoning.
A substitute reporter who wrote the story later wrote a satirical column criticizing "a fancy neighborhood with rich neighbors like dentists and school teachers."
Dr. Philip Sallberg, the neighborhood's only dentist, objected. His wife is a teacher. He said the column made him, his wife and their neighbors look hostile to elderly people, when their concerns were about traffic and parking.
Jodi Driscoll, editor and publisher of the Times-Region, said she regretted not checking the facts in the news story to ensure accuracy. She defended the column but said she had consulted an attorney before running it, and on his advice removed a few sentences that "went over the line."
The panel said the column was unfair because of the inaccuracy, but split evenly on whether it fell within the latitude generally given to opinion writers.
The Minnesota News Council is an independent watchdog group that holds public hearings on complaints about news coverage. It is composed of media members and other citizens. Its findings carry no sanctions and people bringing complaints before it waive their right to sue.
On the Net: http://www.mtn.org/newscouncil
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