Commentary: An Apology To Our Readers—Garbage In, Garbage Out Is No Excuse

Commentary: An Apology To Our Readers—Garbage In, Garbage Out Is No Excuse

As soon as you publish something, you own it. You and you alone are responsible for the accuracy of the content. That’s the rule.

The “Well, it was in the press release” excuse doesn’t cut. If you believe that, you have no business in professional journalism. Garbage in, garbage out is not a defense. Whatever your source, once you publish the story it’s all yours.

That something’s my co-publisher Jason Johnson and I take very seriously.

The Desert Storm top-speed shootout happened five day days ago. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Jeff Helmkamp Photos.

And so I apologize to all of you, as well as my dear friend and colleague Johnson, about the numbers I reported in “Photo Essay: The Speed Demons of Desert Storm,” which ran on April 28, the day after the Desert Storm Poker Run Shootout. I learned today via a story on Speedboat magazine’s website that both radar guns used were mis-calibrated

Translation? All of the numbers were likely 20 mph too high. Yes, you read that correctly.

That doesn’t mean Tim Jones and his daughter, Amanda, aren’t still the  2024 King and Queen of the Desert, as the titles go. Everyone who participated in last Saturday’s top-speed contest laid down speeds captured by the same mis-calibrated radars guns.

When I looked at the shootout results on the Desert Storm Instagram page—not exactly the ideal vehicle for delivering thorough results—last Sunday, I noticed the speeds for a DCB Performance Boats M37R catamaran and an Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats SV 29 were dubiously high. But power was not included in the bare-bones listing, so I assumed—a cardinal sin in professional reporting—the catamaran had Mercury Racing 500R outboards with flashed ECUs and the V-bottom had monster power.

My inner voice said just one word, “Really?” I should have listened to it. But I didn’t and there are no excuses.

That I was excited for 27-year-old Amanda Jones earning the Queen of The Desert in her first top speed shootout doesn’t matter. That I was thrilled to learn she is the daughter of fellow Queen of the Desert title-holder Miranda Jones is equally meaningless.

 Enthusiasm is a poor substitute for not trusting your gut, and an even worse one for not fact-checking, especially when you think something is off.

This is not the first time Desert Storm organizers have butchered the results of their own top-speed event, but that, too, is irrelevant. Five days have passed since my story. And no one from the organization has bothered to either me or my co-publisher to explain what happened.

That, too, has no relevance.

My story, my responsibility—that’s how it works or is supposed to work, when you make your living this way. Earning credibility as a reporter takes a lifetime. But it takes seconds to lose.

To all of our readers and my business partner and other teammates, I apologize. I cannot say I’ll never make a mistake again.

But I can promise I’ll never make one this stupid.



Boat Lyfe