George Mason Law School

Statement from the Editor-in-Chief

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October 21, 2016

4:55 PM

Dear readers,

Every day, The Flat Hat strives to publish truthful stories as quickly as we can. When we fall short of either of those goals, we believe our readers deserve to know why.

Last night, The Haven released a statement calling into question facts contained in an article published on flathatnews.com Sept. 27 and printed in the Oct. 4 issue of The Flat Hat (“SANE nurse now available at Williamsburg hospital 24/7”). In particular, The Haven raised two points The Flat Hat got wrong:

— We wrote that a local SANE nurse was available 24 hours a day.
— We implied that students seeking Physical Evidence Recovery Kits (PERKs) or the services of a SANE nurse would no longer have the option of traveling to the Newport News location of the Riverside Hospital or receiving services from a Riverside Hospital mobile unit of SANE nurses based in Newport News.

We were wrong, and we regret the error. We know that any time we report false information we create the potential for individuals to be harmed. We also know that in this case the stakes were particularly high. When The Haven released their statement, The Flat Hat was in the process of investigating the source of the incorrect information, and has been attempting to get in contact with Elizabeth Walters, the Forensic Nurse Program Coordinator for Riverside Regional Medical Center, since before their statement was issued.

These are the immediate steps we will be taking:

— I am officially retracting the article that was published, and will issue corrections online and in the next print edition. The Flat Hat is also retracting three tweets and two Facebook posts from late September and early October which included the incorrect information.

— I have appointed Digital Media Editor Madeline Bielski ’17 to independently review the reporting that went into the article and issue recommendations based on her findings. She will not report to me, nor to anyone involved in the writing or editing of the article, though she will have full access to conduct her review and to appoint other members of The Flat Hat to assist her as she sees fit.

I believe that this was a one-time error. Our reporting was based on facts and documents we obtained from the office of the mayor, the city manager and the Student Assembly Executive Branch. After the article was written, it was reviewed by multiple members of The Flat Hat staff, including Managing Editor Isabel Larroca ’18 and myself. I believe The Flat Hat was acting in good faith based on information provided by reputable sources. Nonetheless, the independent review will ensure that a mistake like this does not happen again.

Thank you for reading,

Tucker Higgins ’17
Editor-in-Chief

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About Author

Tucker Higgins

Tucker Higgins, The Flat Hat's editor-in-chief, is a senior international relations major from Los Angeles, California. In 2015, he won The College of William and Mary's Rex Smith Award, named for the longtime writer and editor for the Associated Press. In 2016, he served as the J. Edward Grimsley Journalism Fellow.