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Arbitrator orders <I>Post-Dispatch</i> to revoke reporter's suspension

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis – A federal labor arbitrator has ordered the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to revoke the two-day suspension of a writer and reimburse her for lost pay.

The newspaper suspended investigative reporter Carolyn Tuft after editors found factual errors in a series she wrote on the Joyce Meyer Ministries in 2005.

The mistakes in the story included a statement that Meyer and her husband got free use of a corporate plane, when it was in fact deducted from their pay. Also, the paper wrote that four of Meyer's children sit on the ministry's board, but only two are board members.

While the arbitrator lifted the suspension, he let stand a written warning the Post gave Tuft. He also refused a request from the St. Louis Newspaper Guild that the paper retract an apology it printed.

But Tuft said she still feels vindicated by the ruling.

"Journalism is my life, and credibility is the only thing we sell in this industry," Tuft said. "We're not making widgets here. My credibility was that important, and the credibility of the newspaper is even more important."

Post Editor Arnie Robbins said it was important to the paper's credibility to print the apology. He said management is satisfied with the ruling and that it's time to move on.

"The arbitrator found we were justified in taking disciplinary action and in publishing our apology to readers."