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July 14, 2024

Northwest Herald – Communication brings clarity

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On January 19, 2019

McHenry Co. (ECWd) –

Recent communications with Jon Styf have brought clarity on some issues and considering he said: “feel free to correct your error”, let the clarity begin.

It all started when the NWH reporter Ed Komenda wrote an article that contained numerous false statements.  We exposed that work in this article.  To date, we have not seen any correction to those errors.

Following that article, Jon Styf, Editor for the NWH, wrote his piece on Algonquin Township and raised numerous questions about our organization yet never asked us anything, which would have addressed his questions.  We have to assume such questions were more about making insinuations than actually reporting. We addressed his comments in this article.  I also emailed him and let him know if he had questions to ask them.

Rather than Styf asking us any questions, he had his reporter send them.  We answered all of them and many others in this video article with the exception of one relating to our attorney that had no relevance to our operations which was conveyed in a separate email.

When we published this article regarding a letter to the editor, Styf sent me an email and said:

“Your post here ( is completely false.

We have pretty simple and straight-forward rules for letters to the editor. The rules run most days that letters run.

Not only were neither of the two letters we received this week regarding Mr. Hanlon marked as Letters to the Editor, neither followed the rules, so we can’t publish them. You can look back and see that we’re fine publishing letters critical of us. Our work should always be subject to scrutiny, that’s part of the journalism process.

The rules were created for a reason, to ensure letters come from real people.

Feel free to correct your error and check with the source if they followed the rules on submission.

I’m also interested in this sentence: “Considering we do not nor ever will subscribe to the NWH”

Is that true?

Jon Styf
Northwest Herald

Completely false?

We basically made 5 points in the article Styf claims were “completely false”.
We said:

  • “A letter to the editor of the Northwest Herald has been shared with us.”
    That is 100% factually true so how he can say that is false is amazing. Not only was it shared with us, we published it to prove it was shared with us.  Note his own email confirms he recieved it.
  • “Considering we do not nor ever will subscribe to the NWH, we won’t know if the letter ever gets published for their readers to actually see so we are providing it with permission from its author.”
    That is 100% factually true and when I informed Styf of that, he was unable to produce any record of the Edgar County Watchdogs having ever subscribed to that paper.  Rather he plays the game of pointing to a single $.99 cent purchase yesterday to read an article that was done by John Kraft with his personal debit card.  Another example of how Styf is unable to recognize the difference between the actions of an organization vs. individuals in their personal capacity.  Regardless of his word game, our statement was 100% factually true, “we” the Edgar County Watchdogs, Inc. has never subscribed to the NWH nor will we ever.
  • “The letter is from John Polster, an Illinois attorney”.
    That is 100% factually true.  How he can say that is false is amazing.
  • “The letter was dated January 11th, 2019. As of January 15th, 2019, it appears the NWH will once again ignore the facts and fail to provide truth to its readers.” 
    That is 100% factually true.  To date, we have yet to see any correction to Komenda’s article that did, in fact, contain false claims regarding the Algonquin Township Road District attorney Rob Hanlon.
  • “We understand another individual has also sent a letter to the editor. If we are able to get a copy we will publish it as well.”
    Considering Styf would have no way to know what we understand, its most telling that he states such a statement is false, especially considering his own communication to me he confirmed he did receive two letters of which one of those very letters, contrary to his claim, was, in fact, addressed to “Editor in Chief”.

The clarity comes from the communications with Styf.  We now have a much better understanding as to how the paper plays the game.  Styf defaults to rules for publication of letters to the Editor however those rules have very little to do with what we stated in our article.  He confirms he recieved two letters but says they were not “marked as letters to the Editor”.  Now I don’t know if that is some internal mail-room boy or girl marking his mail accordingly or not, but I do know a letter that is addressed to “Editor in Chief”, is, in fact, a letter to the Editor. Nevermind the fact his own email confirms he (the editor) recieved two letters.

Styf chose to focus on the rules for publication of such letters rather than actually calling them a letter to the editor. What is sad is the fact he confirms receiving them and has yet to correct the very matters raised in at least one letter. That appears to be an indicator that if you sent a letter to him anonymously about something that needs correcting, it will be ignored, facts be damned.

During my communication with Styff, he stated:

“Also, as you don’t seem to be acknowledging it here that you were incorrect, there are pretty basic rules that you have to include your contact information to confirm the letter. If not, we can’t run the letter. We did receive two letters regarding Mr. Hanlon, neither included contact information.”

His attempt to say we were incorrect in our article is laughable.  I responded:

You stated our entire article was false yet you confirm you received two letters.  Now I don’t know what one of those letters says regarding who it is addressed to, but I do know that the one we published was, IN FACT, a letter to you, the Editor.  That is a letter to the editor.  Whether it meets your rules or not for publication does not change the fact it is a letter to the editor.

I will be more than happy to run an article that explains your claims.

While I understand your “rules” for such letters to be published, we both know it does not take much effort to confirm who sent the letter to you, as the editor.  The lack of willingness to verify the letter as being from a real person is most telling. 

For clarity, the Northwest Herald does not consider a letter to the Editor in Chief to be an actual letter to the Editor.  In order to be an actual letter to the Editor, it has to meet their rules for publication.  Nevermind the fact people may not want such a letter published but do want their concerns sent to the Editor.  More importantly, it would appear a letter that contains or points to improper reporting will not be looked into unless the letter meets rules for publication.

One would expect, or at least we used to expect, the local media to take all necessary steps to correct errors in their reporting.  In this case, we exposed the errors of Ed Komenda in his claims regarding filings in court and the paper did nothing to correct it to our knowledge.  A local attorney notified them in his letter to the editor sharing the same concerns and the paper did nothing to correct it to our knowledge.

And now, rather than simply correcting the inaccurate reporting, the Editor of the Northwest Herald claims our article on a letter to the Editor is “completely false”, while never providing one shred of evidence it was false.  To him, it was false because rules for publication were not followed, yet he admits receiving the letters.

And the most interesting response from Styf is with this statement:

“Feel free to correct your error and check with the source if they followed the rules on submission.”

While Styf wishes to focus on rules for publication and or submission, he fails to understand such rules have nothing to do with his actual receipt of a letter to the Editor.

The NWH appears to have no interest in correcting the inaccurate publication by Ed Komenda but would rather tell us to feel free to correct what they perceive as an error while failing to point to any specific error.  There was no error in our reporting.  We hope that this article brings clarity to what kind of effort goes into your local reporting and how even after being proven wrong in their reporting with actual court records and affidavits, they have not corrected it.

We ask that the NWH feel free to correct Komenda’s reporting of inaccurate information.

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