Seasonal affective disorder is more than the winter blues
The Northwest Herald on Friday published this story about seasonal affective disorder, a mood disorder that can cause depression during the winter months.
As part of the story, we interviewed Justin Stone of Lake in the Hills. Stone reached out to us after seeing a post on the Northwest Herald's Facebook page in which we sought local residents who suffer from SAD.
Stone told our reporter that he suffered from SAD, and agreed to be interviewed and photographed. Friday's story included a photograph of Stone in his home with a light therapy box he said he used as part of his treatment, as well as direct quotations from him about his supposed ailment.
Over the weekend, Stone posted on his Facebook page that he had "conned" the Northwest Herald into believing his story. We called Stone on Monday after learning of his Facebook posts. He initially still claimed to suffer from SAD, but then admitted that he made his story up, saying it was "kind of a joke and it kind of went too far." He later apologized.
Stone deceived us, but we didn't do enough to verify his story. We didn't confirm his story with a doctor or members of his family. We took him at his word, and because of that we published a story with inaccurate information. For that, we apologize to our readers.
The Northwest Herald has a great responsibility to verify information before we publish. We fell short of that in this instance. We will learn from this. We are reinforcing our policies on source verification. We will do better.
We do not want our failure to verify Stone's claim to detract from the reason we did the story on seasonal affective disorder, however. In our published story, we also talked to licensed professionals who explained the very real effects of SAD. The ailment is real, and many people suffer from it during the long winter months in northern Illinois.
The story idea and much of our reporting on it was legitimate. But it does not excuse our mistake.
– Dan McCaleb, Northwest Herald editor
LAKE IN THE HILLS – For years, Justin Stone dreaded the onset of winter for the way it affected his mood.
When winter hit, Stone would find himself withdrawing to his room, lethargic and lacking the desire to join his friends.
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