Column

Styf: Thank you for the questions; we're happy to answer

Jon Styf
Jon Styf

We get questions about our coverage quite often, including everything from why we covered one thing and not another to why we contacted who we did, the timing of the coverage and so on.

This week, we received several good questions about our coverage, which is great because I’d rather have readers ask than come up with incorrect assumptions.

One question or comment we received was about covering the McHenry County Fair’s announcement of Ted Nugent as a headliner, which ran on the cover of our paper. One reader even compared it with covering the comments of a Woodstock smoke shop owner regarding the procession following fallen McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner’s funeral.

I agree that they are similar in a lot of ways, but not in the way the reader was asking. We wrote both stories about topics that already were getting a lot of attention from readers. The goal was to explain what was going on with both those complaining and the subject of the complaints.

To me, the Woodstock shop owner story was much more about the response than what was said in the first place. The shop owner went to both the Woodstock Police Department and McHenry County Sheriff’s Office to apologize, and he closed the doors of his business along with shutting down its Facebook page, at least temporarily, because of the response. The goal was to inform, not enrage, and unfortunately, we cannot control those who responded without reading the story.

That’s the thing now with the evolution of social media, we cover an event and there’s usually someone in the public who appears in the comments who is close to the story. Sometimes, they don’t feel their side was fully told and we often reach out to follow-up.

Which brings us to traffic incidents, crashes and police activity.

We know you are out there, as members of the community, seeing what happens. When roads get closed down, Nixle alerts are sent out or we receive a tip, then we call local police or head out to the scene. We don’t always hear back immediately. We can only tell readers what we know and attempt to learn more. It also leads to tough choices, because often people in public who see parts of something that happened don’t always get the full information.

So we most often wait for the police to call us back and inform us.

On everything from the McHenry Home Depot fatal pedestrian accident to the recent convenience store armed burglaries to the fatal Wauconda accident involving McHenry teens to the Sleepy Hollow stabbings, we went to the scene to find out what happened and learned a lot more down the line.

One thing we were asked this week was why we published the name of the person in custody for the Sleepy Hollow stabbings, which the Kane County State’s Attorney did not name publicly until Thursday morning, after it filed its full set of charges.

The Kane County jail, however, had named Fabian J. Torres by the early hours of Tuesday morning, stating he was on an investigative hold. We felt it was important public information to explain who was being questioned, where the suspect was from and why the police believed there was no further danger after the dangerous situation in a seemingly quiet neighborhood on Monday afternoon.

We did what we felt was right for you, telling you who police were holding and questioning as their full case developed. That is our job and this week we felt we did it well.

• Northwest Herald Editor Jon Styf can be reached at jstyf@shawmedia.com or 815-526-4630.

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