I had another first in my journalism career thus far on Monday, and let me tell you, it was a humbling one.

Without my own research beforehand, I gave someone’s words a pedestal they shouldn’t have been on – the pages of this newspaper.

I learned of this mistake the hard way, of course, and it is a hard lesson that I am learning. Having walked through the Coldwater Hotel with co-owner John Allison and assistant manager Nik Vischschraper, I now know that the letter published in the Aug. 8 edition of the paper does not reflect what is going on inside its walls.

While I can’t speak to the writer’s experiences, I can speak to my own experience, and what I saw on my first-hand tour showed that it can’t possibly be the same hotel.

What I saw were rooms, not unlike average motel rooms, and nothing falling down or caving in, no refuse at all or loiterers in the hallways. I was shown inside a number of suites, including the one in question. Not only was it livable, it was, as I expressed to John and Nik, quite roomy.

John and Nik said the place has been well inspected and is all up to code, which it had to be prior to the sale.

If you have your doubts, the owners invite you to go take a look for yourself.

The hotel is not the big, scary place some people may think it is. It’s the kind of place where the smooth tones of jazz greats complement an historic ambiance and where friendly laughter between tenants isn’t uncommon. It is nothing short of livable, of course. Many tenants have lived there for years.

I regret that I took someone’s word for it, and feel manipulated as the gatekeeper of the opinion page. The writer in question left the hotel very close to the time the new owners took over and essentially, the place is starting fresh with them.

I do not take my failure in this regard lightly, nor do I take it lightly that I’m discussing this failure in a frank and public way.

And what did I learn from this? That as the addressee of the letter (however impersonal the name of “editor” is) I have a lot of responsibility in putting that page together. There are loads of people who read the paper, which is fantastic. However, there is a finality in the printed word itself that can be very powerful, for better or worse, and I have renewed my view that words can wield immense power.

Anybody who knows me knows that I try my best in this position and there can be a tremendous amount of pressure, even in a market relatively small such as Merritt. I am not asking for sympathy for my career path (which I chose) and I know that I have an important responsibility to the paper’s readers. But I am still learning as I go, and sometimes I have to learn the hard way.

This is definitely one of those times. And you can bet I won’t forget this lesson.

I may have had to learn the hard way, but I am learning. And aren’t we all?