February 08, 2012 - When I heard that one of the owners of Great Lakes Elite (GLE) Gymnastics & Cheer was on the phone, holding for me on Line #1, I'll be the first to admit I was not looking forward to the conversation awaiting me.
I was 100 percent certain this person was calling me about the story I was working on concerning the gymnastics coach who allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl in the GLE parking lot (see Page 1).
Based on my past experiences with some other businesses and government entities, my first thought was, "Here we go. They're going to try to persuade me to kill the story and if that doesn't work, threaten me with lawsuits, boycotts or lost advertising revenue.
"Or they're going to tell me how the story should be written, to not mention the name of their business and ask to read it before it's published. They're going to want more spin and less reporting."
I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up the phone and none of what I was dreading happened.
In fact, GLE co-owner Beth could not have been more cooperative, open and refreshingly honest.
Thank you, Beth.
She wanted to make sure I had all the information I needed for my article and that it was accurate.
She wanted to know if I had any questions for her and indicated she was more than willing to answer them as best she could. When it came to anything she didn't know or wasn't sure of, she referred me to the Oakland County Sheriff's Department.
Beth told me how this alleged crime was impacting GLE's staff, students and parents. She informed me of the immediate steps GLE management took when it learned of this alleged incident.
Above all, she wanted to ensure the victim's identity would be protected in the story.
I found her comments to be genuine. I found her shock and anguish over the situation to be heartfelt.
Despite the horrific nature of this situation, I found Beth's willingness to be open about it quite refreshing.
Too often, businesses and government entities have this bunker mentality when it comes to dealing with the press over bad news.
The usual reactions range from "no comment" to manufactured statements that really say nothing at all.
In GLE's case, it was nice to talk with someone who was being honest about the situation and actually trying to help me inform the public about it.
I prefer that to getting meaningless quotes from overpriced lawyers and empty-headed public relations people, excuse me, communications specialists.
The world would be a lot better off if people just did their own talking as opposed to hiding behind useless mouthpieces who don't give direct answers and understand nothing about real journalism, or truth for that matter.
I commend Beth and GLE Gymnastics & Cheer for their handling of this entire situation. They clearly have nothing to hide and want to do the right thing.
I wish more people were like that.