As the editor of the Eastern Shore Cooperator, I am writing to address a request for a correction in an article entitled “Life As a Carrot,” written by Jude Major and published online on August 23, 2020, describing her experiences as a costumed crossing guard on Sunday mornings helping people back and forth across Hwy 7 between the Railway Museum/Farmers Market and the two food shops, Dobbit Bakehouse and Noor’s Mediterranean Cuisine.
In this article, she wrote, “MLA Kevin Murphy complained to a Market board member because I didn’t have a permit from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Development.”
MLA Kevin Murphy emailed the Cooperator asking for a correction to this article. In his email, he laid out the chronology of his interactions dealing with having a crossing guard at this location. Here is the full text of his email:
“I am troubled by the author’s characterisation of my recent interaction with an Eastern Shore Farmers Market Board Member as 'complained.' That is not my recollection of the conversation. I had a very meaningful, polite conversation with the Board Member in question out of genuine concern for the safety of all involved.
After a recent Sunday visit to the Eastern Shore Farmers Market at the Musquodoboit Harbour Railway Museum I observed the 'Carrot' stopping traffic in both directions on Highway 7, allowing pedestrians to cross.
A few days later, I had occasion to bump into an Eastern Shore Farmers Market Board Member, and our conversation turned to the Market, and its continued need/search for a permanent home. I reiterated my support for the Market and its efforts.
I mentioned my observations of 'the carrot' crossing guard and asked the Board Member if they knew if the Eastern Shore Farmers Market had a permit/permission/authorisation from HRM or the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation to stop traffic on a provincial roadway. The Board Member did not know the answer but committed to find out from the Board.
I mentioned that it would be important to find out ASAP as the Eastern Shore Farmers Market may be liable if there is an accident of any kind, and that obviously is a concern for all involved.
I provided the Board Member with the information on how to apply for special permits for provincial roadways, and the contact information for the appropriate channels at NS Dept of Transportation.
I offered to assist should the Board need anything further.
The Board Member was very appreciative of the information and committed to bring this to the Board ASAP.
I had no further follow up with the Eastern Shore Famers Market Board on this matter until the article entitled “Life As A Carrot” appeared online in the Eastern Shore Cooperator on August 23, 2020
August 24, 2020, I received a phone call from the Board Member with whom I had the conversation. The Board Member was very upset with the article’s misrepresentation of our conversation.
“I am disappointed that the Eastern Shore Cooperator did not reach out to me directly for comment on this topic, and chose instead to misrepresent my conversation with the Board Member in question by presenting what seems to be a third party opinion on a conversation they themselves were never part of.
“Since becoming MLA for Eastern Shore in 2013, I have no recollection of any media request from the Eastern Shore Cooperator that has not been replied to in a timely fashion. I received no media request from the Eastern Shore Cooperator to comment on this particular story. Had there been a request, I would have happily provided a statement.
“I have an expectation that media outlets will make an effort to present a balanced approach to all reporting, including all relevant sides to a story. To reference me as the MLA in the article, and characterise my conversation with another person as a “complaint” is unacceptable and I respectfully ask the Eastern Shore Cooperator, and the author of the article to issue a correction and apology ASAP to myself and the Board Member in question.
“PS: Should the Eastern Shore Cooperator want to do a balanced article on sidewalks, crosswalks, the relevant regulatory bodies and processes involved, and my efforts as MLA to support the various community efforts to improve pedestrian and motor vehicle safety on the Eastern Shore, I am happy to make myself available for an interview.”
Murphy is correct that he and his staff have always responded to our media requests in a timely fashion, and that he has been a supporter of the Market over the years. Murphy is also correct that the author of the piece was not part of the original conversation. As her editor, I assumed that whoever described this conversation to her either used the word “complained,” or some other similar language. But I did not think to call his office to check whether he might disagree with the characterization of his conversation in this article.
In dealing with controversial issues, I usually make sure to include direct quotes from all sides in an effort to be fair. And in seven years, I have yet to turn down a letter-to-the-editor correcting what we printed. In this case, it was a mistake not to check in and hear Murphy’s explanation. We will be printing this correction on our webpage immediately, and in the October print edition. Politicians have a right to expect media outlets to make an effort to avoid one-sided stories. I apologize for the error and will be more careful in the future.
Richard Bell, Editor