Sunday, November 19, 2006

You're not a judge; you're not the jury

Believe it or not, some of the people arrested and charged with committing crimes are not guilty.

So play it straight in police stories. Dont' write that a Missoula man has been arrested for robbing the bank. If he's yet to be charged, say he's been arrested in connection with the robbery at the bank.

If prosecutors decide to charge him, then lead with that: A Missoula man has been charged with robbing the bank.

I'd be wary even after a judge or jury had decided the case. For instance, I wouldn't write that a bank robber has decided to appeal his sentence. Unless he's confessed to the crime, or the evidence is overwhelming, I'd say a man convicted of robbing the bank has decided to appeal his sentence.

It's a sublte but imporant point.

No comments: