Quick Guidance Note ... On Naming Minors : Memmos Standards & Practices Editor Mark Memmott writes occasional notes about the issues journalists encounter and the way NPR handles them. They often expand on topics covered in the Ethics Handbook.
NPR logo Quick Guidance Note ... On Naming Minors

Quick Guidance Note ... On Naming Minors

The case of the two Wisconsin girls who are accused of stabbing another 12-year-old has again raised the issue of whether to name minors accused of such crimes.

We agree with AP's thinking:

"AP does not name juveniles accused of crimes unless there are overriding needs, such as warning the public about dangerous situations, e.g., a manhunt. In exceptional cases, juveniles charged as adults for particularly serious crimes may be named in news stories, but only after clearance by senior AP editors."

In the Wisconsin case, the girls have been charged as adults and their names have been reported. But it seems clear their attorneys will push to have the case moved to juvenile court. This is an instance where we conclude that they're too young to automatically start naming them just because they've been charged as adults. Also, we don't believe a national audience is necessarily interested in the names of these girls.

The key words in the guidance are that such juveniles 'may' be named, but 'only after' consultation with senior editors.

In a post or story, please add language to the effect that "though the girls have been named in some news reports, NPR is not doing so because of their ages." You might also say something like "NPR only reports the names of minors charged with crimes after careful consideration of the information's news value."