Reporting Crime

The Daily strives to serve the community by providing accurate information regarding crimes on campus.

As journalists, Daily reporters strive to serve the community by providing the most accurate information no matter what the subject matter is, and crime is no exception.

However, in Daily’s July 30 issue story, “Police probe similar cases,” we didn’t provide readers with a detailed description of a robbery suspect, despite the information being provided in a crime alert e-mail sent by University Police Chief Greg Hestness.

As a result, I received several questions from readers as to why we didn’t include some of the suspect descriptions.

Because of our newsroom policy on suspect descriptions, we often leave out racial or ethnic descriptors because there aren’t enough other specific descriptors included in the police report. Our newsroom policy in regards to suspect descriptions is as follows: The determining factor on whether to include the full description is how many attributes the law enforcement officials give us. The description should include gender, approximate height and weight, race or coloring, hair color or description, a clothing description, and at least one of the following descriptors: scars, tattoos, body markings, weapon description, vehicle description, jewelry description, and if two or more suspects are described.

Most of the policies that we have created follow the standards that many other media have in place. And of course this isn’t the only reason why we implement such standards. The Daily also does not want to encourage racial profiling of suspects. We believe that if the description is too vague, it doesn’t help serve the public.

And since all of Daily reporters are students and most live on campus, we feel responsible for providing enough information that could inform a citizen who could potentially help in identifying a suspect, which could then result in their capture. We aim to adhere to the highest ethical standards in journalism, and try to assess each situation of coverage fairly.

-Vadim Lavrusik is the Editor in Chief of the Daily.