Local Official Sues Oswego State Student Newspaper After Story Mistakenly IDs Him as Sex Offender

Michael Todd, a city councilor in Oswego, N.Y., has filed a lawsuit against The Oswegonian for a story mistakenly identifying him as a registered sex offender.

Roughly a month ago, a report ran in the Oswego State University student newspaper about the fight surrounding a law barring sex offenders and recent felons from driving local taxis.  Todd is featured prominently in the piece as an official supporting the law, mainly because “passengers of taxis should not have to risk their safety when getting into a taxi.”  Unfortunately, the article published in print and originally run online wrongly IDs Todd as a sex offender himself, along with a few other errors.

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A correction placed atop the revised article on the Oswegonian website currently reads: “Due to an editing error, Oswego City Councilman Michael Todd was incorrectly referred to as a registered sex offender and co-owner of D&M Taxi company with Brian Savage. Todd is not a registered sex offender, nor is he Savage’s brother or in any way affiliated with D&M Taxi. D&M Taxi is not managed by Savage.  The company being referred to was intended to be Lake City Taxi, which is managed by Savage. We regret the error and apologize to both Todd and D&M Taxi.”

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According to Syracuse’s Post-Standard, Todd’s suit “alleges that the newspaper made a ‘false and defamatory statement’ causing Todd ‘financial loss, ridicule and public humiliation.'”

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Last month, just after the article’s publication, the Oswegonian editor-in-chief told Jim Romenesko, “I would have to agree with you that this is a newspaper’s worst nightmare, especially for us since, as a student newspaper, one of our primary goals is learning and developing our skills for future careers in journalism. My newspaper staff and I have been sick with grief over this error, and feel terrible about what Todd and his family are going through because of it. At this point we are doing what we can to remedy the situation. We are trying to learn from this so we can improve our editing process and make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

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Comments
2 Responses to “Local Official Sues Oswego State Student Newspaper After Story Mistakenly IDs Him as Sex Offender”
  1. As the Co-News Editor for a student newspaper, I can safely say that a mistake like this is honestly inexcusable. Messing up the spelling of a name? Okay. Forgetting a comma? Whatever. But mistakenly identifying someone as a sex offender? Why wasn’t this fact checked? Come on people. I know we’re students here, but really. Pay attention.

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  1. […] This mistake could prove to be costly for the student paper at Oswego, as we had discussed/predicted. […]