By: Joe Strupp
The Daily Nonpareil in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Sunday published a Page One apology to a local auto dealer after discovering that a two-part series on buying a new car had included incorrect information about the local dealer’s practices.
Managing Editor Jon Leu said the unusual front page message ran above the fold, in the center, because that is where the original stories appeared. He added that Publisher Tom Schmitt made the final call.
Schmitt declined to comment, stating in an e-mail through Leu, that “We made our apology in the story, and we have no additional comment.”
The 14,875 daily circulation paper, located near the Nebraska state line, published the apology to the Lake Manawa Nissan/Kia dealership after a two-part series by former reporter Brien Boyce appeared in the Dec. 10 and 11 editions.
Leu said the series included Boyce’s own story of purchasing a car at the Lake Manawa dealership, and having to return it when a credit check found his credit to be insufficient. “When he wrote the story, he made it sound like he did not know it might have to be returned,” Leu said. “But the reality was he knew that it was a possibility.”
The apology stated, in part, that the story “may have presented a false impression.” It later said that a review by the paper found “that Boyce was informed his purchase was conditional upon financing being approved by an outside lender. Additionally, the review made clear that Boyce was also informed that the car would have to be returned if financing was not approved.”
It ended by stating “the Nonpareil regrets having published the story and apologizes to our friends at Lake Manawa Nissan/Kia and to our readership.”
Chuck Norman, the dealership’s general manager, said he did not specifically complain to the newspaper about the series, but said the issue of the stories came up during “regular conversations we have with them.”
He said the dealership is a regular advertiser in the paper. “We told them we did not like the article and we were not happy with the way it was written,” Norman said. “We were okay with the way they handled it. It is water under the bridge. We are settled up with that.”
Boyce, who could not be reached for comment, had worked at the paper years ago and had most recently been on staff for about two years. Leu said Boyce resigned about a week ago, but declined to say if the apology or the related stories had prompted Boyce’s departure. Leu declined to comment on whether Boyce had been punished in any way for his actions.