Readers Complain About Victims’ Records In Story


Some readers complained when the Chicago Tribune wrote about the criminal records of two men who were shot to death in a nightclub. The paper’s public editor, Don Wycliff, said that “neither man did anything to merit being slain.” One was reported to have been on parole for a carjacking, and the other had three felony convictions between 1989 and 1997. One reader said, “These men were innocent victims, not the perpetrators,” adding that “their criminal records are totally irrelevant to the story and printing them shows a callous disregard for the feelings of their grieving families.”

Marie Dillon, the deputy metro editor who made the decision on including the victims’ criminal records, cited these reasons: Because the crimes involved were serious: carjacking, and manufacture and delivery of cocaine; Because, in the case of one victim, quotes from his mother about his efforts to turn his life around would have been senseless without the criminal record as a predicate; because with the lawyer for the club portraying one victim, a bouncer, as something of a hero who threw himself in front of bullets, it was important for readers to know all aspects of the man; and because club patrons might be interested to know the background of the man charged with maintaining order.


Comments are closed.