To close out the year, we've asked contributors to choose their favorite stories of 2017.
City Editor Walter Thompson selected Why Doesn’t Hoodline Include A Suspect’s Race In Crime Stories?, which ran on September 11th.
"The majority of our coverage is hyperlocal neighborhood news," said Walter, "so writing about one of our editorial policies was a major departure—for me, and for our readers."
The story was prompted by questions from readers who asked why we don't report all of the information contained in the daily SFPD summaries we use as the basis for our crime coverage.
"Many want to know why we'd include a suspect's gender or estimated age, but not their race," he added. "It's a reasonable question, and because it's asked so frequently, we decided to explain our policy and engage in an open discussion" in the comments below the story.
"The short, simple answer: including race doesn't help identify suspects and promotes stereotypes," said Walter. "Reporting gender and age in crime stories doesn't raise either of those issues," he added, noting that these stories aren't written to help readers solve crimes, but to keep them current with neighborhood events.
Because it’s difficult to determine a suspect’s race, “it is most likely smarter to leave it out, especially when you are making the information public,” said SFPD Captain John Sanford, who manages Park Station.
“I do not believe there is any empirical evidence that suggests if the public knows the race of an actual suspect, it increases the chances of taking that suspect into custody,” he told Hoodline via email.
Immediately after its publication, Hoodline began linking to this policy at the end of every crime story.
Continue reading Walter's favorite story of 2017, Why Doesn’t Hoodline Include A Suspect’s Race In Crime Stories?
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