Criminals in the Spotlight

When the news media reports on crimes, even the most heinous ones, should the criminals be named? In this article, they compare the journalistic and government approaches of America, Canada, and a handful of European Countries. The person who produced this study, established the countries into three different groups in regards to how they proceed with the telling or not telling of the criminal’s names and their reasons why.

I found this article very interesting because of the different reasons why the countries share and don’t share the name of their criminals. Especially in comparison to what America does.

“In the Netherlands and in Sweden, the practices are codified in ethics codes but those aren’t laws. People follow them because they believe that’s the right thing to do not because it’s required that they do that. They have freedom of the press in the same sense of the word that we have it here in North America, but journalists routinely choose to protect names and identities because they believe that’s the ethical thing to do. Because they believe that stories about crime can be told without naming a person and sometimes implicitly by shaming them. Naming implies a punishment.”

So what? 

I believe that this topic is important. When a big news media story circulates, especially tragic ones, the information is plastered everywhere, including the culprit who committed the crime. In a matter of hours or a day, it’s on newspapers, magazines, news outlets, websites, etc.

My personal opinion is that we do not always need to know the name of the criminal. It should be on a case-by-case basis though. Not every crime is the same. However, those that are purposely seeking notoriety and commit crimes mainly to be known and remembered for that reason should not be granted that request. When we do that, wouldn’t we be enabling these people? More importantly, when we put so much focus on who did the crime, we take away the light that should be shed on the victims and their families.

Lastly, we should also take into consideration the times that people falsely get convicted and then their name is ruined. The news media drags their name in the dirt and that can never be erased. The last time I checked the American justice system is; innocent until proven guilty. However, because our society is so engulfed in details and the plastering of information everywhere, that this isn’t always the case. As a result, it ruins people’s lives and may even cause more harm and grief to the victims and their families.


COMPLETED: 3/19/21


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