AP says it will no longer name suspects in minor crimes
June 16, 2021 9:01 PM   Subscribe

Little things…little things like this give me hope that, as F-ed up as the world is, we are slowly heading in the right direction.

*tries not to look at the rest of the mess we’re in, at least for a moment*
posted by darkstar at 9:09 PM on June 16, 2021 [12 favorites]

Can we get cops and prosecutors to stop doing press conferences sometime soon too?
posted by djseafood at 9:50 PM on June 16, 2021 [22 favorites]

This is a good good thing
posted by glaucon at 10:33 PM on June 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Salacious, often prurient, tittle-tattle is the shame of the public discourse we call news. Anonymized salacious tittle tattle is kinda pointless so AP may as well not run the story at all. More room for scientific breakthroughs, social justice triumphs /initiatives, unrecognised talent in the Arts, heroic kindness . . .
posted by BobTheScientist at 11:18 PM on June 16, 2021 [12 favorites]

What if they held a perp walk and nobody came?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:20 AM on June 17, 2021 [4 favorites]

Very happy this is happening. This definitely makes it harder for local newsrooms to fill their 22 minutes. Since more than half their stories are copied verbatim from the AP.

Maybe it will also lower the number of reported suicides that end up on air. Local celebrity suicides are still broadcast quite frequently. Newsrooms will actually have to do some additional research to find our the the perps info and assignment desks tend to be lazy.
posted by meltedcrayon at 7:49 AM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Naming folks will likely stay in local police blotters, there's a certain pleasure in seeing your idiot neighbor get popped for DUI. Nameless entries on these lose impact.
However, when I worked at a newspaper, we would take off names upon request after a period of time. This usually was done by young folks with unusual names who wanted to get jobs after graduation. They googled themselves and were worried.
posted by greatalleycat at 8:14 AM on June 17, 2021

As a former newspaper guy, I'm standing and applauding this.

Next move: Getting newspapers to kill their "mug shots" features. My former paper was one of the first to launch that travesty, and in a staff meeting with the executive editor I raised the same concern-- that we're bascially tarring and feathering people for life when they're only *arrested* and not necessarily, even rarely, convicted of the charge.

His response: It gets more clicks than anything on the website. Case closed.
posted by martin q blank at 8:15 AM on June 17, 2021 [27 favorites]

Martin Q Blank, I had the exact same discussion in my newsroom years ago. They said that about the clicks, verbatim.
posted by girlmightlive at 8:52 AM on June 17, 2021 [10 favorites]

Wouldn’t photos of people at their convictions be as click worthy? Still fails when the justice system does, but at least saves some people from infamity.
posted by clew at 12:22 PM on June 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

And the wrong words
make you listen
in this criminal world
—David Bowie
posted by furtive at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

Wouldn’t photos of people at their convictions be as click worthy?

There are some problems with this idea.

In many states, mugshots are public information and easily accessed. The police station takes the photos for you, so they're also cheap. Not so with a hypothetical "conviction photo"; you'd probably have to send your own reporters to take them, and that's if cameras are even allowed in the courtroom.

There are also far fewer convictions than arrests, which means a lot less content.

Then there's the appalling fact that most people who are sentenced for crimes in the US never go to trial at all; the legal system can't handle that number of trials. Instead we offer people coercive plea deals. There might still be a court appearance (a hearing) but there's no real dramatic "conviction" moment to capture.

But also, the deeper reason this is a bad idea is just ... the fact that you pled guilty to marijuana possession or whatever should probably not haunt you every time you apply for a job for the next twenty years.

Get rid of mugshot reporting and don't replace it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:36 PM on June 17, 2021 [13 favorites]

When we share that "amusing" or "colorful" crime story, we do so often unaware that that story can be:
1. Full of inaccurate information provided off the record by police. The police sometimes make stuff up, particularly on an anonymous basis.
2. Allows the news organization to profit from the suffering of someone who may have mental health issues and has not been convicted of a crime.
3. Creates an extrajudicial punishment which lasts long after the person in the story has paid off their debt to society.

I have observed this happen to people I care about. The "journalists" who published the inaccurate stories and mugshots refused to take them down or retract aspects of them, despite me offering information on their inaccuracy. Their incorrect information is still googleable years later, and my friends have no way to correct the record.
posted by dantheclamman at 2:14 PM on June 17, 2021 [11 favorites]

This is good. I'm curious when they stopped giving out home addresses of people accused of crimes.
In response, columnist Nicholas Goldberg of the Los Angeles Times wrote in February that news organizations “shouldn’t muck around with history.”
I hope Nicholas Goldberg is unable to ever get a real job after the garbage rag he works for folds. Looking at the history of his articles, it's an astonishing, steaming pile of donkey poop. This is not journalism. His work is shockingly stupid. It's barely literate. That the AP treats him like an expert, rather than a batshit goofball conspiracy theorist, makes it clear how much respect we should have for the AP.
posted by eotvos at 2:29 PM on June 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

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