Recent crime reporting raises concern

Editors:
I’m writing to ask about the Alameda Sun’s editorial standards related to the use of race as part of descriptions of crime stories.

“West End Murder Suspects Nabbed,” Aug. 30, included as part of the paragraph describing the two men suspected in the robbery and death of Cindy Le included information about their age, race and city of residence. Their race was not included in the online version I saw today. 

Does the Sun have a standard guiding when race is included in descriptions of suspects? For example, years ago when I edited the Laney Tower and compiled the police blotter, I set a minimum of four characteristics before I would include race (i.e. gender, age, hair or eye color, height, etc.) 

I was curious as to whether you all have adopted a standard or a guide.

 

 

— Rasheed Shabazz

Editor’s note: Thank you, once again, for directing us to our oversights. Rasheed was not the only reader to draw attention to this matter. The language was used in the story to meet a certain word count and the use of race to describe the suspects was inconsiderate. Sun staff decided to remove the inconsiderate language from the online version of the story. 

The Alameda Sun’s official policy on crime reporting moving forward is to reserve the description of a person’s race unless it is pertinent to a particular investigation. In that case it would only be appropriate to describe a suspect this way if police are attempting to determine the suspect’s whereabouts in connection with a crime and a physical description might help bring the suspect to justice.

 
While we don’t always get it right, the Sun continues to strive to provide stories and opinions Alameda residents would be interested to read. 

 

There is never a day I rise with an intention to harm any of the Sun’s readers or treat anyone unfairly. Please don’t hesitate to inform me at ekos@alamedasun.com when and how we can improve. 
— Eric J. Kos