Editorial: Newsroom content policies provide trust with audiences

The media plays an important role in society. We are a disseminator of information, an outlet for the voiceless and a watchdog keeping an eye on those in power. To hold these responsibilities is not something the Northern Star takes lightly or for granted.

With these responsibilities comes the understanding that our reporting might not always sit well with people. Over the holiday break, the Northern Star received a letter from an attorney representing former NIU Police Chief candidate John Vinson. Mr. Vinson’s attorney requested that the Star remove an article regarding his client’s previous employment at the University of Washington Police Department. Requests such as these are not uncommon for the Northern Star and other media outlets, but the response is typically the same; we respectfully declined his request.

The Northern Star Editorial Board believes that it is in the best interest of our readers to explain our content removal policy and why we take this stance.

The Northern Star is guided by general policy to not remove content from our online records. We feel this would alter the public record and damage the trust with you, our readers. The Northern Star will always correct or add to the record when information becomes available and note that to readers through the use of editor’s notes and correction statements. 

We will not remove content under the request of it being “unflattering,” “change of opinion” or other personal reasons. The Northern Star and its staff follow procedures to make sure all sources understand they are on the record and can be quoted and that their words do matter. 

The Northern Star Editorial Board holds this policy not out of a desire for power, but to keep our trust with our readers. Without a sense of trust between readers and the media, our job is ineffective. This policy is designed to protect that trust and the Editorial Board stands behind our policy.