The Associated Press reports that it will no longer run the names of people charged with minor crimes, out of concern that such stories can have a long, damaging afterlife on the internet that can make it hard for individuals to move on with their lives. While AP will often post what is considered a minor story regarding a person’s arrest for a low-level offense that receives a small amount of local or national attention on any given news cycle, the name of the person arrested will live on forever online, even if the charges are dropped or the person is acquitted, hurting their ability to get a job, join a club or run for office years later.
In a directive sent out to its journalists across the country, AP said it will no longer name suspects or transmit photographs of them in brief stories about minor crimes when there is little chance the organization will cover the case beyond the initial arrest. The AP said it will also not link to local newspapers, broadcast stories about such incidents where the arrested person’s name or mugshot might be used or do stories driven mainly by particularly embarrassing mugshots. The policy will not apply to serious crimes, such as those involving violence or abuse of the public trust, or cases of a fugitive on the run.