WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Judgment Calls for News Departments

Jun 10, 2014

The Shop Talk panelists discuss the sometimes difficult decisions that must be made when covering stories.

They focus on the Wisconsin case in which two 12-year old girls stabbed a classmate, who survived.  The attackers are charged as adults with first degree intentional homicide.

Some stations have blurred out the suspects’ faces in videos because the girls are juveniles.  Others have not blurred out their faces and have released their names because the two are charged as adults.

The victim’s name has not been released.

News organizations usually don’t report the names of juveniles charged with crimes. But this story is considered different because the two are charged as adults and prosecutors have released their names.

Panelist Lisa Kernek said even though those names are easy to find through a web search, she would be hesitant to report the information.  Kernek said the two are still awfully young, despite the fact that they are charged as adults.

Panelist Rich Egger said some news organizations might make their decision based on the pressure they feel from knowing the names are already out there.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton said she would not hesitate to report the suspects’ names and broadcast their photos once they were charged as adults.