Most readers who have answered a St. Louis Post-Dispatch online survey favor the newspaper’s using more racial identifications of crime suspects. That approach was backed by 103 of 138 respondents as of today. The survey was prompted by calls and comments on online stories asking why the race of a suspect wasn’t specified, particularly when police are seeking someone.
The newspaper quoted Keith Woods of the Poynter Institute, a center for training journalists, as arguing against racial identifications in most cases. The current Post-Dispatch policy is to identify an individual by race only if “the information is clearly relevant. In crime stories in which authorities seek a fugitive, a racial designation is included only as part of a very detailed description that provides enough information to aid in the capture of a suspect.” Reader comments on the issue can be viewed on the newspaper’s site.