Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why we named the victim of an attempted murder

We’ve received both praise and criticism for identifying the elderly woman who was shot by an elderly man in a Tribune story this morning. The critics say we lack concern for the family. “The law states that the name of the victim will not be released, so you basically work around the authorities and release it yourself.’’ Supporters noted that it was no secret who the victims were, that The Tribune was just doing its job and that “reporting the victim’s name quells fears and concerns’’ among those who might fear the victim could have been someone else at the trailer park where the incident occurred.
As we noted in the story, Grover Beach police officials refused to provide the woman’s name, claiming it was a domestic abuse case and citing an exception in the California Public Records Act allowing victims’ names to be withheld.
After confirming the victim’s name different ways, we published it because police called the incident an attempted murder-suicide. We rarely, if ever, cover individual domestic violence disturbances but we do report names involved in murders and attempted murders. Moreover, the woman we identified was no longer at risk of danger because, police said, the man who shot her had killed himself.
-- Sandra Duerr

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