Corruption and theft had infected a prominent anti-poverty agency. A medical device maker withheld information about patient injuries from a government watchdog. A woman was kept in virtual captivity in a nursing home because of her guardian’s abuse of power.

Those Star Tribune stories and many more began with tips passed to reporters. Readers and insiders are critical to alerting journalists about what’s going on in their neighborhood, workplace or institution. Your eyes and ears are especially important to us in an era of growing government secrecy. Other ways we find out what’s happening, including public records and open meetings, are increasingly restricted by officials who are overworked, overcautious or just obstructive.

So today the Star Tribune is unveiling new ways for people to contact our newsroom and pass on news tips. We are eager to follow up on what you think should be in the news, especially what problems we should investigate or what untold stories are going on in your community.

There are also more ways than ever to send messages and documents to us without it getting traced back to you, if that’s what you prefer.

(Everything that follows, plus more detail, can be found by going to startribune.com/tips online.)

You can call the newsroom (612-673-4414) and ask for the reporter or editor who covers the community or subject that you’re calling about. You can also look up our newsroom directory online at startribune.com/bios. You can call or send an e-mail to that person, or if you don’t know who should get it, you can send it to whistleblower@startribune.com.

You can send records to us the old-fashioned way, through the U.S. mail, and we’ll open it even if it doesn’t have a return address. Over the years, we have received dozens of anonymous letters and heaps of documents this way, and some have resulted in news stories. If you don’t know who to send it to, use this address:

News tips

Star Tribune

650 3rd Avenue S., Suite 1300

Minneapolis, MN 55488

For the more tech savvy with sensitive information, there are several ways to reach us through more secure electronic means. Several staff members use Signal, an encrypted text messaging app that’s free to download on your phone. My Signal number is (612)-666-0697.

There’s also a way to send encrypted e-mail, using a system called PGP, which stands for Pretty Good Privacy. You’ll need to set it up on your end, and then you use codes to ensure that only the intended recipient can open the message. There are instructions on how this works at the tips website mentioned above.

It is a sad sign of the times that some people feel they have to take these measures to protect themselves when they’re contacting a news organization. After all, the First Amendment protects freedom of the press, and you shouldn’t have to act like a spy to communicate with us.

Yet stories of retaliation against “leakers,” even here in Minnesota, mean that the Star Tribune and many other news organizations have taken extra steps to ensure that you can get information to us discreetly.

The Star Tribune can seem like an impenetrable organization from the outside. I can assure you it’s populated with journalists who are eager to look into your concerns and ideas.

We can’t guarantee that we will do a story based on your tip. Every tip is helpful to us in understanding what’s happening in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

 

Contact James Eli Shiffer at james.shiffer@startribune.com or 612-673-4116.