The Associated Press said Tuesday that it will no longer name suspects in minor crime stories that only cover an arrest with no follow-up.
John Daniszewski, AP’s vice president for standards, said in a statement that in such stories, the news outlet will likely not report on whether charges were later dropped or if the suspect was acquitted.
He said that these stories have “long lives on the internet,” adding that the news outlet’s distribution network can make it difficult for suspects in these cases to later gain employment or “just move on in their lives.”
“Broadly speaking, when evaluating such stories, we should consider first whether the story is worthy of our news report, and if distributing it is indeed useful to our members and customers,” Daniszewski said.
“If the answer is yes, in keeping with AP’s commitment to fairness, we now will no longer name suspects in brief stories about minor crimes in which there is little chance AP will provide coverage beyond the initial arrest,” he continued.
In addition to removing names, Daniszewski said the news outlet will not link to stories about a minor case that do name the suspect, nor will it publish the mugshots.
Daniszewski also said the news outlet will stop publishing stories driven by an “embarrassing mugshot,” and stop publishing those photos “solely because of the appearance of the accused.”
Daniszewski said this policy only applies to minor crime briefs. AP will still identify suspects by name in stories about “significant crimes” such as murder, because “in these cases, naming a suspect may be important for public safety reasons.”