L.A. Times Explains Use Of Racial Identifiers In Homicide Report


The Los Angeles Times explains why it uses racial identifiers in its Homicide Report, which includes details of homicides in Los Angeles County. Commenting on one item that reported one Latino’s killing another one reader wrote, “”Why are both of these men identified as Latino?” The ancestry of the person does not need to be identified unless it is somehow relevant to the news. This seems like a blatant way to try to associate Latinos with crime.”

Says Megan Garvey, the editor who oversees the Homicide Report: “When people are new to the report, they often get angry that we include race/ethnicity for the victims and, when known, their alleged killers. But we think it's important to shine a light on how some groups, particularly young black men, are disproportionately the victims of homicide. Suppressing that information only serves to tell an incomplete story.” The Times says racial information once was routinely included in news stories about crimes, but in recent decades, many media outlets stopped mentioning suspects’ or victims’ race or ethnicity because of public criticism. Newspapers came to embrace the idea that such information is irrelevant to the reporting of crimes and may unfairly stigmatize racial groups. The Times added that its Homicide Report “departs from this rule in the interest of presenting the most complete and accurate demographic picture of who is dying in homicides in Los Angeles County.”

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