Editorial: Newsroom content policies build public trust

The media play an important role in society. We are a disseminator of information, an outlet for the voiceless and a watchdog watching over those in power. Taking on these responsibilities is not something Northern Star takes lightly or for granted.

With these responsibilities comes the understanding that our relationships may not always suit people. During the holiday break, the Northern Star received a letter of an attorney representing former NIU Police Chief nominee John Vinson. Mr. Vinson’s lawyer asked the Star to withdraw a article regarding his client’s previous employment with the University of Washington Police Department. Requests like these are not uncommon for the Northern Star and other media, but the response is generally the same; we respectfully declined his request.

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

The Northern Star is guided by the general policy of not deleting content from our online records. We believe this would alter the public record and damage trust with you, our readers. The Northern Star will always correct or add to the record as information becomes available and will note this 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 ensure that all sources understand that they are recorded and can be quoted and that their words count.

The Northern Star editorial board holds this policy not out of a desire for power, but to maintain the trust of our readers. Without a sense of trust between readers and media, our work is ineffective. This policy is designed to protect that trust and the Editorial Board supports our policy.