To our readers: I made an assumption in a column this past weekend. It was a bad move. In a column written Friday for our Sunday newspaper, I assumed that what I had been told by Mateen Cleaves and Jason Richardson had indeed happened, that they had indeed flown to the Final Four, sat in the stands together rooting on Michigan State in Saturday’s game. That was their plan. Both told me so in separate interviews. Because the column had to be filed on Friday afternoon, but appeared on Sunday, I wrote it in the past tense, as if it already had happened.
While it was hardly the thrust of the column – which was about nostalgia and college athletes – it was wrong just the same. You can’t write that something happened that didn’t, even if it’s just who sat in the stands. Perhaps, it seems a small detail to you – the players still love their teams, they are still nostalgic, they simply decided not to go after the column had been filed – but details are the backbone of journalism, and planning to be somewhere is not the same as being there.
So I owe you and the Free Press an apology, and you have it right here. It wasn’t thorough journalism. While our deadlines would have required some weird writing – something like, “By the time you read this, if Mateen and Jason stuck to their plans, they would have sat in the stands for Saturday’s game”- it should have been done. We have high standards at this newspaper, and I have high standards for myself. We – the editors and I – got caught in an assumption that shouldn’t have happened. It won’t again. Thanks.
Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.