Editorial: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

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Editorial: Don’t Shoot the Messenger

By NWN Editors

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Due to the influx of comments questioning the Niles West News’ position on covering the arrest of senior Sam Breitberg and last week being Scholastic Journalism Week, the NWN editors would like to clarify the purpose of this student-run publication.

Although the NWN is not a professional site, we produce a publication that models real journalism practices. This is the reason why many of our stories reflect unique perspectives on clubs, students, and school-sponsored events.

It just so happens that we are fortunate enough to go to a school where violence does not often occur.  It’s true that our biggest news for a while was a lunch strike. However, when something as serious as a bomb threat occurs, it is our job to report on it as well. It is a matter of school safety, and everyone has the right to know about it.  Everyone who attends this school should be able to find out the facts of such a big event from our paper.

The First Amendment gives every American the freedom of speech and press. Some commenters may suggest that a story be pulled down because it “embarrasses” someone; the NWN believes that is it un-American to do so. Facts –including arrests — are public information (which anyone can obtain through a Freedom of Information Act request), and no one’s reputation is more valuable than that.  If people think they can learn that information from another newspaper, well, that’s fine, but is it fair to restrict students from reporting on events that would never be ignored by other publications simply because they’re students?

Just how the Chicago Tribune would not refrain from publishing critical information in a story, the NWN will not either. The NWN is a legitimate publication, and until readers realize that the NWN is more than just a school-sponsored activity, they will have a hard time understanding our publishing decisions.

The NWN is not here to spread great tidings of success or happy-endings to the Niles West community. It is here to provide news and update the community on what is happening at Niles West, good or bad.  We will not apologize for giving our readers access to the truth.  We will not apologize for “embarrassing” anyone.  The NWN is not a fluff paper, and we refuse to restrict publishing because it does not paint our school or students in the most positive light.




4 Responses to “Editorial: Don’t Shoot the Messenger”

  1. Buzzy on February 28th, 2013 12:42 pm

    Amen! Some of the comments are really puzzling to me as they argue that the article was being unconstitutional to the violation of someone privacy. But what they do not know is that telling a newspapers not to publish specific/certain news is a violation of the UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, 1st Amendment – Freedom of Speech and Press. NWN is no different and should be protect by this right. Also NWN did not defame Sam in this article but they only stated facts provided publicly so they have no legal reason why they should retract the article and apologize.

  2. Billy Bob on February 28th, 2013 3:54 pm


  3. s-m-r-t on March 4th, 2013 5:15 pm

    To add to what Buzzy said, if one does not wish to receive press, one should avoid saying or doing things that will make them worth writing about…like making threats that will, WITHOUT QUESTION, result in getting arrested. I read loads of comments about how nice Sam Breitberg is and that he’s a funny guy, and I’m sure that’s true. Unfortunately, that nice guy made a very poor choice. I’m really sorry he got arrested. All the same, I think NWN was smart to publish the story (which was relevant to the NW community) using public records and some positive opinions as opposed to covering the story negatively or pretending it didn’t happen. For every person who ends up in the paper, there is someone out there going, “hey, I know that guy/girl!” If newspapers refuse to report a story just because someone knows the person involved, there wouldn’t be much news. I hope Sam is doing well; I’m sure what he went through as a result of this whole thing was tough.

  4. yes on March 4th, 2013 8:38 pm


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