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Use sources who are emotionally involved with the perpetrator judiciously.

The perpetrator's grieving family and friends often try to explain the inexplicable, to excuse the inexcusable. In the 1999 Young case, relatives and coworkers described the perpetrator as "a good man, loving and caring... gentle, kind, wonderful." (Young case, Providence Journal, 3/26/99)

Media Practice

“Police say Oscar Hudson, 50, shot and killed his estranged wife, Berta Hudson, 48, on Charles Street around 3 p.m. Saturday. Councilman Nicholas Narducci, who represents Ward 4 where Berta Hudson was killed, said the way this happened was shocking and should have never occurred. ‘As a sitting councilperson, I’m going to be reaching out to my reps, to my senators, and ask for their help to maybe even stiffen up the new laws that went into effect,’ Narducci said.” – WPRI, 4/26/2019

Avoid quoting distant acquaintances.

Eager for background, reporters often quote neighbors and distant acquaintances who actually know little about the perpetrator or victim. Lacking real information, they tend to reinforce popular myths about domestic violence murders as random unpredictable acts: " 'They seemed to be nice, you know,' said a next-door neighbor. 'And they seemed to get along as far as I could see.' " (Mailloux case, Providence Journal, 4/29/96)

Reporters use these sources even when they suggest their own lack of information. One report quotes two neighbors: "Said Julie Gull who lived across the hall, 'I never had a conversation with him.' Albert Chace, who lives below [the perpetrator] said, 'He's very nice to me. I don't know anything personal about him.' " (Robinson case, Providence Journal, 9/19/99)

Media Practice

Reporters should avoid positive character references from non-acquaintances.