Usually, we don’t follow up with coverage about the outcome of the cases. We may not know if the charges were later dropped or reduced, as they often are, or if the suspect was later acquitted.
These minor stories, which only cover an arrest, have long lives on the internet. AP’s broad distribution network can make it difficult for the suspects named in such items to later gain employment or just move on in their lives.
Broadly speaking, when evaluating such stories, we should consider first whether the story is worthy of our news report, and if distributing it is indeed useful to our members and customers. If the answer is yes, in keeping with AP’s commitment to fairness, we now will no longer name suspects in brief stories about minor crimes in which there is little chance AP will provide coverage beyond the initial arrest.
The names of suspects are generally not newsworthy beyond their local communities. We will not link from these stories to others that do name the person, and we will not move mugshots in these cases, since the accused would be identifiable by that photo as well.
We also will stop publishing stories driven mainly by a particularly embarrassing mugshot, nor will we publish such mugshots solely because of the appearance of the accused.
This policy of not identifying suspects by name applies to minor crime briefs. We will continue to identify suspects by name in stories on significant crimes, such as murder, that would merit ongoing news coverage. In these cases, naming a suspect may be important for public safety reasons. These guidelines also do not include stories about active searches for fugitives.