How WISC-TV/Channel 3000 names suspects in crime stories
In late 2021, the News 3 Now/Channel 3000 newsroom adopted a policy where we do not name suspects in crime stories until they are formally charged with a crime. There are a few editorial exceptions outlined below, largely for public officials or issues of public safety.
Modified approaches to crime reporting have been pioneered by news ethics organizations like the Carole Kneeland Project, where News 3 Now’s newsroom leadership at the time learned of and adopted this policy.
Newsrooms around the country are reevaluating how to balance the responsibility of maintaining a community’s public record while also remaining cognizant of how internet and Google permanency will affect people’s lives long after old mistakes. It’s something that media outlets of the past rarely had to consider because of the difficulty associated with accessing archives.
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While names are still constantly released by police as suspects or persons of interest before formal charges are made in press conferences, incident reports, and more — naming them in news reports before charges are formally filed can have a profound impact for those where the charges are either different than originally reported or never materialize at all.
Here’s how News 3 Now/Channel 3000 considers exceptions to this rule:
- Names will be reported prior to formal charges for public officials or those in positions of public trust, if the crime they’re accused of is a felony, violent, or has a large public impact
- Names will be reported prior to formal charges if law enforcement officials are identifying a person who may be a current threat to the public, such as when a suspect is on the loose after being accused of committing a severe violent crime like sexual assault or murder
- Our managerial and editorial team reserves the right to name suspects prior to charges in other rare or unforeseen circumstances that impact the public’s need for name identification. At times, public officials may name a suspect during a livestreamed event where News 3 Now was not aware beforehand that a suspect would be named
News 3 Now’s goal is to be transparent about our reporting processes and the reasons behind our editorial choices. If updates are needed for this policy, they will be clearly marked for the date of their adoption.
Questions? Contact our managerial team at email@example.com
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