I am deeply disturbed by the Register's decision to list the name, age and town of a victim in a recent brief. Equally bothersome is the newspaper being selective about specifically naming someone.
The specific victim in question has had a difficult enough time since the defendant is a relative. Why did she have to endure further humiliation by seeing her name in the newspaper? Certainly all victims deserve the dignity which only journalists can provide -- anonymity.
I have to live by the same code every day; I've been covering the criminal justice beat for more than four years at the Norwalk Reflector.
The only times when it's appropriate to name a victim is: when the person has died, testified or has been interviewed (thereby granting permission for the publication of his or her name). Although I'd prefer if accident victim's names weren't named, I understand wanting to know how one's relative or friend fared in a crash.
One could argue I'm not doing my dear friend any favors by writing this. However, I hope I can save other people the same humiliation she had to suffer by having her name published.
Managing Editor Matt Westerhold firmly told me his staff names "all" the victims. He said the only exception is the victim of a sex offense.
I am imploring the Register's reporters and editors to be fair and consistent.
Mr. Westerhold said his paper's job isn't to "censor" or "withhold" information from the public, so he doesn't see a problem with naming victims. I do; it's the equivalent of beating someone when he or she is down.
Cary S. Ashby