The Wilmington (Del.) News Journal’s story about an armed robbery and shooting in Newark didn’t name the juvenile suspects – the youngest is 13 – while the Newark Post used both the names and mug shots. (When I was a police reporter in Milwaukee, we never used juvenile’s names unless they were charged as adults.)
I asked Post editor Josh Shannon about his policy. He tells Romenesko readers:
Twenty years ago, when newspapers were the only gatekeeper, it may have been a harder decision. However, in today’s age when many police agencies attempt to act as their own media source, it changes things. In this case, Newark Police Department published the names and mug shots on its website and Facebook page. What would we be protecting by withholding names that are already in the public domain and accessible with a click or two of the mouse?
That said, the severity of the crime certainly factors into it as well. In this case, the teens are accused of robbery and a shooting. If, for whatever reason, NPD decided to start publishing names of kids arrested for petty theft, etc, I doubt we would publish those names.