An average day in any media organization consists of several news meeting and IrishCentral is no different.
On Wednesday, we sat in our editor’s office and discussed the biggest stories of the day.
IrishCentral endeavors to report on all things Irish, if something breaks at home in Ireland we want to be the first port of call from our Irish-American readers. We aim to inform, educate, entertain and promote lively debate. Our harshest critics would say we tick few of these boxes. Regardless, every day our limited staff here put enormous effort into trying to reach that goal.
During Wednesday’s meeting our publisher told us he had read somewhere Casey Anthony had a shamrock tattoo.
He was intrigued by the prospect; there must be some Irish connection there. After some digging around online we discovered an interview with her tattoo artist and photos on Fox News. It was confirmed, the shamrock tattoo existed. We even unearthed pictures of a drunken Anthony exposing her mid riff and showing the world her tiny green shamrock tattoo.
Then some more news stories revealed that the 25-year-old particularly liked the symbol of Ireland—so we ran with the story, much to the disgust of some IrishCentral readers, with the headline “Casey Anthony is the girl with the shamrock tattoo -Not guilty verdict may be ‘luck of the Irish’”.
Our Facebook page blew up.
On Thursday morning when I arrived at the office at 6.45am I stared blankly at the screen as I quickly scanned some of the comments.
“Why is this garbage posted? I thought better of this site.”
“There is no reason for a post like this...except to incite anger & hatred”.
“It’s high time Irish central STOP making...fools of the Irish and start reporting on worthy news with PROPER FACT headlines.”
These are just a few examples of some of the more mild mannered commentators on our Facebook page.
The damage was done. I immediately emailed the editorial team as we had just published another feature on the Anthony case, in which the 25-year-old had professed a desire to adopt an Irish child.
After a tense morning we assembled for our midday meeting yesterday. I told assembled staff members we had gone too far, this was a very sensitive issue and people were fascinated by this case.
My editor, who has been around the racetrack a few more times than I, insisted we had just reported the facts.
I argued it was the wrong angle to take, at the center of this case was the unexplained murder of a innocent little girl.
My editor rebuked that a jury had found her innocent of murder.
I insisted that above all Anthony was guilty of mistreating her daughter Caylee, which for most human beings is a horrendous prospect.
Another staff writer reminded me that countless children are mistreated ever day and lose their lives in tragic circumstances.
We sat there in a heated debate for at least five minutes.
So the questions remains…were we wrong to report that Casey Anthony has a shamrock tattoo?
I don’t think so. It’s a fact. However it was never our aim to trivialize the sensitivity of the case.
So to all those we offended, I do offer a sincere apology.