Story on Sen. Webb interns — ‘A’ is (also) for ‘apology’

July 31, 2008

I am disappointed and dismayed by your article “ ‘A’ for attitude,” published July 28.

The article omits key parts of my interview. I told your reporter at the outset that the assigned work was what I expected because I had been briefed by my program on the clerical work I would be doing. And, that I did not expect to work on other things. I also volunteered, at this time, that working for Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) was a great experience and a great opportunity, which I would do again. I also said it was interesting to learn from logging mail what issues the people of Virginia were concerned about. None of these statements made it into print.

Other comments were taken out of context. I told the reporter we interns had worked four hours that morning logging in letters from a petition involving animals, all identical except for the different names. It was in this specific context that I said sorting mail was tedious and that I never thought I would be so busy. I told your reporter this was my first taste of a full-time job, how it was a relief after several hours on this petition to move to the next petition, and that I never thought I would hate sitting in a chair for so much of the working day. All those comments, off-the-cuff, were not meant to criticize the work we interns were assigned. They were simply a reflection that “real world” work in the senator’s office, on important constituent mail, was a much harder task, including physically, than I had ever expected. Your reporter spun these comments in a far different fashion.

I regret very much my choice of words and my poor judgment in speaking with your reporter. I apologize here to Sen. Webb for any misimpression my words left. However, they were used out of context. I am portrayed as an intern who did not value the wonderful opportunity she was given and who did not want to work hard; i.e., who deserves, implicitly, an “F” for attitude. In fact, I am a 17-year-old rising high school senior who worked incredibly hard the entire week, was praised for her work ethic by the senator’s staff, and greatly enjoyed my experience.

Your article is titled “ ‘A’ for attitude.” Respectfully, “ ‘A’ is (also) for apology.” I made mine to Sen. Webb’s office, and here again. I think you owe me one as well.

America needs responsible journalism and your article lacks it, at least as to me.

Jaclyn E. Tatge

Editor’s note: The Hill acknowledges that Ms. Tatge said in the interview that the work she did in Sen. Webb’s office was what she expected to do, and what her program had told her to expect. A sentence to this effect is being added to the online article. The Hill regrets this omission and any other miscommunications or omissions that might have occurred during the interview.