Behind the Curtain: We want to show how we cover the news

To us, the process of covering the news seems obvious, usually simple but sometimes a little complicated. We view it as mainly common sense, clearly not rocket science, and almost always carried out with good intentions.

But that's because this is what we do for a living. That being the case, it doesn't seem all that mysterious to us.

I imagine it's the same way for a police officer or a teacher or a construction worker or an air traffic controller. (Maybe not for a rocket scientist.) Their work seems obvious to them because they do it every day. But their work isn't obvious to me. I might guess at some of the ways they do their jobs and I might incorporate movie characterizations into my guesses, but I don't really know how they do their jobs or the pressures and conflicts that come into play. And I certainly don't appreciate the nuance in their work.

That's what this page is about. We want to pull back the curtain and help you understand how we cover the news, how stories come about, the rationale that goes into some of our journalistic decisions.

We plan to turn this page over to that topic the first Monday of every month.

In the past few years, we've written a lot in our editorials about news literacy - the critical thinking required to sort fact from fiction and to assess bias and objectivity, the obligation of the citizenry to be well-informed.

Our editors - in collaboration with The News Literacy Project, educators and librarians - developed Facts Matter programs that we've presented to groups throughout the Chicago metro area.

Last fall, in fact, we turned the topic into a five-part interactive series we presented as part of the Communication Education program at Northwest Suburban High School District 214.

We believe that helping the public to become more sophisticated consumers of news and information is part of our overall obligation to inform and engage the community. It struck us that part of that responsibility is to help you get a better understanding of who we are as a news source and how we do our jobs. If we do that well enough, it should over time not only help you to get to know us better, but also provide an understanding that helps you better assess the credibility of our reporting.

If there are topics you'd like us to address, email your suggestions to me at

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