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Sometimes, first isn't best - or right

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Here at the Daily Wildcat, we like to pride ourselves on not just getting you, our readers, the most up-to-date and important news happening on campus, but also our ability to bring those stories to you before anyone else. 

Sometimes, though, we make mistakes. One of those mistakes occurred last Friday, Aug. 31. 

A week earlier, a member of the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball team, sophomore forward Ira Lee, was pulled over for a traffic infraction. 

That stop would lead to charges against Lee, including a pending super-extreme DUI.

As we went about requesting documentation from the University of Arizona Police Department, we noticed among the myriad of paperwork that the officer who pulled Lee over that night was wearing a body camera. 

We subsequently requested any video recorded from Lee’s traffic stop and obtained it last Friday.

The video is noteworthy for two reasons: first, it confirms police and media accounts of what happened. 

Second, it shows a mostly cordial conversation between an obviously nervous young man who had just lost his grandmother and a police officer just looking to do his job.

However, in our rush to be first to report and make the video public, we neglected the two most important questions to ask before running any story: is it newsworthy, and are we minimizing harm to those involved? 

While the video does contain moments of pathos and drama, none of it advanced or added to a story that had already been reported. There was no journalistically justifiable reason to publish the video.

In our rush to be first, we were blinded to what was right. That’s why, after posting an edited version of the video for an hour on our social media accounts Friday night, we took the content down.

Still, there are those who are owed apologies. To Mr. Lee, we wholeheartedly apologize. We failed to take into account the impact and reach we possess as a news organ, and Mr. Lee’s reputation could have potentially been damaged.

To the UA Athletics Department and UAPD, we want you to know we will use information gleaned from records and documents in the best of faith. 

And to you, our readers, we know that incidents like this test your trust, not just in the Daily Wildcat, but in journalism in general. 

Because of that, we want you to know that, just like every student on campus, we sometimes fall short of our lofty goals. 

However, we will continue to take the lessons inherent in our mistakes and learn from them. We will grow as individuals and as an institution so as to better serve you. 

In a time of media distrust, we wanted to be transparent and honest with you, our readers, about why we made that series of choices to post, then remove, the video. Only by owning up to mistakes can we hope to retain your trust.

As a publication, we certainly value speed, but we place a higher value on the truth in its proper context.   In the future, our choices will reflect that commitment more closely. 

Thank you for your understanding as we improve, learn and grow.


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