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Newspaper apologizes for false report that trooper shot motorist, but apology hard to find

The Tullahoma News. Credit: Instagram.

A Tennessee journalist has done the unthinkable- he apologized to law enforcement after getting a report wrong.

The incident involved a Tennessee State Trooper and a motorist, with the latter using a firearm on himself following an altercation that included the Trooper being forced to open fire.

However, The Tullahoma News (AKA, “The News”)  covered the incident as if the Trooper had opened fire on the suspect.

“Last week, there was an altercation on Interstate 24 near Manchester where an officer drew and fired his gun and a man died of a gunshot wound,” Publisher Brian Blackley wrote in his formal apology. “We published the story online Monday and in print on Wednesday, but we missed something pretty major. We described the incident as a shooting where the officer shot and killed the motorist. That was wrong. An autopsy confirmed that the Tennessee State Trooper did not fire the round that killed the man, but that he died, instead, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

In the article, titled “Newspaper was wrong; we are sorry,” Blackley wrote about the importance of getting the story straight.

“Our incorrect supposition was that the man, who the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said fired on a trooper, was killed when the trooper fired back,” he wrote. “We do not know if the language in the TBI report is correct, that the trooper ‘returned fire’ or if the man never fired on the trooper in the first place and only shot himself. But the motorist fired his weapon at least one time, striking himself. An officer fired his weapon. The motorist died from a wound inflicted by his own firearm.”

Blackley called his mistake a “logical leap” and attempted to note that the Associated Press got it wrong as well.

“It was a logical leap that we made, but it was a leap, nonetheless, and it was wrong,” he wrote. “That’s not good journalism. We are sorry for our error. We apologize to the TBI, to the Tennessee State Troopers, to the officer involved and to the District Attorney for our error. And most of all, we apologize to our readers. We should do better. We must.”

However, despite the writer’s apology, the correction was nowhere to be found on the Tullahoma News website, aside from the direct link we provided above.

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