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Time to defend myself

I know some of you have taken offense to some of the latest blogs, taken the Randy Shannon Q&A and the correction I ran yesterday as if I was trying to put down The U, make coach Shannon look bad or generate some sort of controversy.

If anyone of you know anything about me, nothing could be further from the truth. I was born in this city and have lived it in for 29 years. I grew up at the Orange Bowl. Am I a journalist? Yes. That's my job. But I also feel like a member of this community first and foremost. I love my job. I love covering the University of Miami. I love watching the kids in our neighborhoods grow up first hand, from their high school days until the day they get drafted. I consider it a privilege. I'm saddened, even to tears in some occasions, when the are tragically shot and killed the way Sean Taylor was earlier this week.

Since Taylor was shot on Monday, I've been requested -- like many other reporters who cover the Canes -- to talk about the incident. The O'Reilly Factor called. ESPN. FoxNews. Randyshannon CNN. Everybody who called wanted two things -- information on the investigation and for me to talk about "the ongoing dilemma at the University of Miami." You know what is happening. You aren't stupid. You've seen how the national media has wanted to come in here and smear The U. They want to throw more dirt on it and use Taylor as its excuse. I haven't wanted to be a part of it -- at all. I could care less about face time, fame. This story isn't about me. It's about Sean Taylor and nothing else. The only interview I did was with CNN -- and that's because they came down to the BankUnited Center, where I was covering a basketball game, to do it.

The first question thown my way: Why does this keep happening at the University of Miami? My response was simple and sounded a lot like coach Shannon's on Tuesday -- this has nothing to do with the University of Miami. There's only been one murder on this campus and that was Marlin Barnes, I told the reporter. We talked for 10 more minutes about Bryan Pata and how people around here really feel about it and how they are upset and hope Taylor's investigation doesn't last nearly as long.

On Tuesday, when Susan Miller Degnan and I spoke with coach Shannon. All I wanted to do, aside from finding out more about this team, was give him a place to defend his program. I knew what was coming. I knew what some of the people in my profession we're going to come with. So, we threw him a question so he could say what he wanted about Miami's image. He defended it. Since I was taught to do my job the right way, I wasn't about to censor anything he said. I gave it to you just like it came out of his mouth. That's my job, last I checked.

Fast forward a day, I get up and before I can even turn on my laptop, Susan is calling me. Coach Shannon's Q&A has already been edited -- without my permission -- and there is a storm brewing from Florida Gator and Ohio State fans who aren't happy with what Shannon said. In this profession, when somebody says something factually wrong, it is our responsibility to clarify it and not mislead the reader. Shannon spoke of his best friend, Walter Odom, being shot and killed in Gainesville. He "misspoke." Odom never got shot and killed in Gainesville. But he was stabbed at a party. I should have never posted it. I should have checked that fact before hand. I didn't. I was wrong. It needed to be corrected. We fixed it and ran a correction. Before that, I called UM Sports Information director Mark Pray to try to give coach a shot at correcting himself. Maybe, he got confused. Pray didn't want to make more of it, so he declined my request and said Shannon simply "misspoke."

You want to call me irresponsible for trying to fix a mistake, go ahead. But one thing you should never confuse me for is somebody trying to put this university down or trying to put coach Shannon in a position to say something wrong. If he does that on his own, that's not my fault. I can't answer for him. In the end, all he was trying to do was protect this school's image which has taken more of a beating than anyone else in America. All he was trying to do was remind people that the University of Miami isn't the only school in America who has had athletes get in trouble or get shot and killed. All he was trying to do is make sure people don't forget the only Hurricane to get into an off-the-field issue this season was freshman Robert Marve. Did he go too far to make his point? I'm sure Gator, Buckeyes and some other fans feel that way. Did he give me some misinformation about Odom? Yes.

But one thing he didn't do was censor himself. He said exactly how he felt. And all I did was report it in it's entirety, without a slant, without an agenda. I'm sorry if you guys have a problem with that. But last I checked that was my job. And that's all I'm trying to do, even if others in my line of work don't know how to do it without getting their fingers dirty.

The greatest irony here is that so many people outside of this profession complain about how quotes or comments are taken out of context. I give you the whole pie and now some of you want to take it out of context to serve your own agenda. And I'm the bad one!

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