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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hey, who's kid is that in the police blotter?

Every so often a familiar name pops up for a misdemeanor in The Saratogian police blotter — familiar because the parent is someone well-known locally, perhaps because of an elected office.

The question then arises, do we print that the person charged is the son or daughter of so-and-so?

The general answer, I think, is no.

Why not? Unless there's a compelling public reason to say so, what's the justification for singling out the children of elected officials — especially adult children, and especially for misdemeanors?

There's no rule book for handling these instances, and the treatment varies among area publications. A publication must be consistent and fair. So let me ask you this: If your child is arrested, should your name be in the story?


Blogger Fresh Ink said...

Let me clarify, in response to a comment I received: I don't mean to discount the seriousness of DWIs or other misdemeanors. The point I was trying to make was that an adult child being charged with DWI is not a reflection on the parents, and thus noting a family connection would not be newsworthy.

July 10, 2010 at 10:44 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I can attest to this scenario because my name has shown up in the police blotter (even after specifically being told at the police station that they would not publicly publicize names), for a crime I was NOT convicted of. It was not a black-and-white case and several people were arrested who had committed no crime but being present in a bad scenario-- however, this is not clear in the plotter, as only the names and the arrest are publicized and I have experienced the shame and degrading experience of having my full name, hometown and age publicly cut down-- nonetheless available online for anyone to judge me prematurely and superficially without the verdict and/ or full story. I think it is unnecessary to publicly display minor arrests and begs me to ask the question: is it really necessary?

July 17, 2010 at 10:27 PM 

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