The AP Has a New Policy Regarding Certain Crime Stories

Posted: Jun 16, 2021 2:15 PM
The AP Has a New Policy Regarding Certain Crime Stories

Source: AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a trend in crime stories lately where reporters omit key details about a suspect’s identity. While we’ve seen this most often when it comes to the suspect’s race, the Associated Press announced last week a new policy that will be making certain omissions mandatory for some stories.

In a blog post published June 8, the Associated Press’s John Daniszewski, vice president for standards, said the wire service will no longer be releasing names of suspects in minor crime stories because doing so could “make it difficult for the suspects named in such items to later gain employment or just move on in their lives.”

They describe these stories as one-off pieces they do about an arrest in which there is little chance there will be a follow-up story containing information about the outcome of the case.

“We may not know if the charges were later dropped or reduced, as they often are, or if the suspect was later acquitted,” said Daniszewski. "These minor stories, which only cover an arrest, have long lives on the internet.”

He continued: “The names of suspects are generally not newsworthy beyond their local communities. We will not link from these stories to others that do name the person, and we will not move mugshots in these cases, since the accused would be identifiable by that photo as well.

“We also will stop publishing stories driven mainly by a particularly embarrassing mugshot, nor will we publish such mugshots solely because of the appearance of the accused.”

Social media users were split over the AP’s decision.