October 18, 2015

FROM THE EDITORS: Responsibility and Reporting on Crime

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Last week, The Sun published a news story titled “Consecutive Trespasses Reported Thursday,” that raised a number of questions among the campus community regarding the inclusion of a picture from a police investigation. While The Sun strives to provide the most balanced and thoughtful journalism on the Hill, we failed our readers through the poor editorial decisions that led to the publication of this picture and apologize for the consequences of its latent racism.

The story primarily regarded two crime alerts sent out prior to Fall Break. The piece also included information about an Ithaca Police Department investigation, which was seeking information about a picture of a man regarding “suspicious activity” in Collegetown that took place within a similar time frame as the crime alerts. Many in the community have questioned the decision to include the two items together, especially considering that the suspect involved in the crime alerts was described as a white male and the photo, of a black man, clearly did not fit the description provided.

The issue was exacerbated when a version of the story posted to Facebook inappropriately juxtaposed the headline of the story with the picture provided by the IPD of the man without any additional information. The lack of context between these two items together provided a misleading image of events that was, although inadvertent, markedly racist.

Studies show that portrayal of black men and women in the media influences how the general population perceives black individuals. In recognition of this, on Thursday we removed the social media post, issued an editor’s note regarding the inclusion of the picture and increased the context surrounding the article. However, soon after we decided this decision was insufficient, and removed the information regarding the IPD investigation from the story because of the racism implied through the inclusion of both news pieces together in the same story. Today, we recognize our failure to address the implications of our decision fully and immediately.

As a national dialogue continues to unfold regarding racism in the United States, we at The Sun have disappointed our readers, who expect more from us. The editorial decisions leading to the publication of Wednesday’s story are regrettable and have sparked an internal discussion on how to prevent incidents such as these from occurring again in the future. For one, stories involving allegations of crime in the future will be reviewed by additional editors before publication to ensure facts are portrayed fairly, accurately and within full context. We encourage any interested individuals to reach out to us with any concerns about our reporting at [email protected].

Tyler Alicea ’16, editor in chief

Annie Bui ’16, managing editor