"We’ve received a number of letters recently alleging that Wayne Slater’s January 18 story on Wendy Davis’ biography contained serious errors. There is one point on which I believe the story was factually correct, but could have been clearer and more complete.
The most thorough set of questions came to us from Jessica Luther of Austin, whose signature says she’s a “writer, journalist, activist.” Her comprehensive note serves as a useful template for addressing the concerns raised by others.”
Slater claimed: "Jeff Davis was awarded parental custody.”
As Luther corrected for the paper: “Jay Root at The Texas Tribune writes, "According to divorce records, she and her husband were granted 'joint conservatorship' of her child, Dru, who was a teenager at the time.”
“The key phrase in Wayne’s report was ‘parental custody.’ It is common in divorce cases for parents to share joint legal custody, or 'joint conservatorship'. In the case of Sen. Davis’ divorce, she and her husband were ‘joint managing conservators.’ Both were empowered to make decisions for the child’s welfare.
‘Parental custody’ does not appear in my legal dictionary; Wayne used it as a way of telling ordinary readers which parent was given primary responsibility for housing and caring for the child.
Our story was accurate, as far as it went, but in this area it could have been clearer and more complete. We did not explain exactly what we meant by 'parental custody,' nor did we specify the extent of Ms. Davis’ continued involvement with her daughter under the decree. When we wrote and edited the story, we thought readers would take that for granted, because these arrangements are typical in divorces. That left some readers perhaps too free to misinterpret the situation.
We will print a clarification in tomorrow’s newspaper.”
“Wayne’s story offered readers what a good newspaper should provide: An excellent first draft of history. It tried to be fair -- indeed, it noted that the broad outlines of her campaign biography were correct -- and it aimed to be as complete as space permitted.”
Rodrigue and I definitely agree on one thing: Wendy Davis is being railroaded by sexist attacks on her life story and worth as both a woman and mother. As he states in his Opinion/Ask the Editor post:
"Sen. Davis’ detractors have selectively used or mis-used parts of our report to make some charges against her that are never made in the story itself. That’s par for the course in politics these days, but we hope readers will judge our stories (and the candidates’ records) on what we publish, and not on how zealous advocates spin what we publish."
"Also, please note that I'm explicitly criticizing some of Sen. Davis' detractors for going far beyond anything we printed or implied in their criticisms of her. I think it's important to separate our story from the resulting political spin. We'll have more on what Sen. Davis' daughters had to say in this weekend's paper."