'Spanish looking' men

On race and ethnic identifiers.

  1. A man was shot in Poughkeepsie. Police are looking for a suspect.
  2. The suspect is described as a “Spanish looking' man.
  3. News stories contain this phrasing provided by police.
  4. Here's the rub: Police are seeking a suspect who fled but the department did not provide any other qualifying information before asking that "anyone with information" call them about it.
    This is a pretty clear example where the identifying information is not informative enough, but further, adding it to a story can potentially perpetuate stereotypes.
    Obviously, you're not going to call the police if you see any of these:
  5. But let's put down our Twitter pitchforks, though. And let's make a lesson out of this.
  6. I get it. As a news organization, time constrains and all, you get a news release and transcribe it and quickly put it up without thinking about it twice. It's official information, after all, right? I' m pretty sure the journalists who saw this rolled their eyes when they saw it. And the Poughkeepsie police department probably needs some guidance on passing identifyers.
  7. However, as journalists, we do have a responsibility on how we pass that information, because ...
  8. I mean, really. You don't even have to think about this much. Just look at your stylebook.
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