Styf: Continuing our role as a local watchdog to trust

Jon Styf
Jon Styf

The 2020 elections still are far in the distance, but the misinformation campaigns have already begun.

This week, a few statewide outlets referred to local blogs related to a spat involving McHenry County Risk Management Coordinator Lisa Shamhart and former McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, who now is a judicial candidate.

I get it, because the case was a juicy one, with accusations of fraud and a beheaded duck with fake blood hitting a porch.

But there certainly was more to the case than those posts let on.

Our senior reporter, Katie Smith, took a deeper dive into the case and provided our subscribers with plenty of insight in Friday’s edition. That will be our goal throughout the 2020 campaign: to cut through the rhetoric and political attacks to give our subscribers a more complete look at what’s actually happening in the community.

It’s also a great lesson on who to believe because what information you choose to include is essential in giving the public the full context on what’s happening.

Although we certainly aren’t perfect ourselves, we strive daily to give our readers that, regardless of which political parties are involved.

We plan to follow up on the claims in the cases involved as this progresses.

But now I’ll go back to the part I mentioned about Smith.

We had a few recent staff changes, and I want to update our readers on the best points of contact for our staff going forward. We still are working to hire another reporter, so more adjustments will be coming.

For starters, Smith recently was promoted to our senior reporter spot. If you read the Northwest Herald, you probably have read her coverage of the McHenry County Courthouse. She also is part of our broader Shaw Media Illinois breaking news team, covering important topics for all of Shaw Media’s outlets, most recently on abortion doctor Ulrich Klopfer.

Smith will maintain her strong reporting presence at the courthouse along with working on plenty of in-depth reporting topics.

Last week, we also added a new face that might be a familiar one for Northwest Herald readers. Kristen Zambo is now our news editor and will lead our local McHenry County-area reporting team on a day-to-day basis.

Zambo most recently was a courts and breaking news reporter for the Rockford Register Star, but she also has worked at papers in Wisconsin and Florida, as well as Kankakee, Aurora and Suburban Life Media since she last worked at the Northwest Herald.

Most recently, you would have seen some of her coverage of late McHenry County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Keltner in our pages.

She will lead a local reporting staff that includes Smith, Brittany Keeperman, Drew Zimmerman and Cassie Buchman.

Keeperman focuses on McHenry and Woodstock along with several area school districts and Spring Grove, Richmond, Hebron, Wonder Lake, McCullom Lake, Bull Valley and McHenry Township.

Zimmerman covers county problems along with Huntley, Lake in the Hills, Marengo, Harvard and Algonquin Township, while Buchman has taken over covering Crystal Lake along with Algonquin, Cary, Fox River Grove, Prairie Grove, Oakwood Hills, Lakewood and Algonquin Township.

That’s not everything we cover, but it’s a lot of it. And we are planning to expand that local reporting team soon.

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

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