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AP move to not name suspects in coverage of minor crimes is 'a positive one,' expert says

Thursday, June 17, 2021

LAWRENCE — The Associated Press has announced it will no longer name suspects charged with minor crimes in its news coverage. The move is intended to prevent news about minor transgressions from living on via the internet and interfering with people’s chances to get jobs, run for office or move on with their lives.

Chris Etheridge, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at the University of Kansas, is available to speak with media about the policy change, its implication, journalism ethics involved in the decision, what it means for individuals who will no longer be named in such stories, the AP’s relationship with regional communities and related topics.

“The Associated Press is recognizing that an arrest is only part of a story and journalists are at their best when they focus on telling accurate and complete stories about and with their communities,” Etheridge said. “For many reasons, this decision by the Associated Press is a positive one. I hope it encourages other news organizations to look closely at their crime reporting policies as well.”

Etheridge, an expert in media representations of crime and community storytelling, does research in the ability of media to serve the information-seeking behaviors of community groups, as well as adoption of new technologies in rural areas as well as the relationship between news organizations and their audiences. He is available to discuss how the AP’s new policy will influence its relationships with communities, especially in cases where naming a suspect only carries interest primarily in a local region, and how including those names has affected individuals in the past.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860, mkrings@ku.edu or @MikeKrings.

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