Sunday, June 12, 2011

Use of "street" or nicknames in reporting

In reference to our coverage of the ongoing murder trial of Jarrin “Phat Boy” Rankin, a reader questions why the Freeman uses nicknames — or “street” names — in its reporting. Among the principals in the case are Amanda “Blazer Bitch” Miller, Trevor “Little T” Mattis, Gary “G-Money” Griffin and Dametria “Meatie” Kelley.

winterweather wrote on Jun 11, 2011 8:49 AM:
" Why does the Freeman print the nicknames of these 'scum of the earth'? To me, it credibility, and I think the person's given name, First, MI, Last should just be used. "

The most important reason we use nicknames in addition to given and legal surnames in our reporting is to be as specific as possible about the identities of people on whom we are reporting.
Some individuals may be known in different spheres of their lives by different names. The fullest set of names serves the widest possible audience.
Court documents, by the way, often follow the same rule. Not uncommonly, federal indictments and the press releases of federal attorneys regarding the conviction or sentencing of gang members will include the street names of persons charged or convicted of crimes.
Another reason to use a street or nickname is the general journalistic rule that a person has a right to be known by whatever name he or she chooses. An exception to that rule would be the editorial judgment to continue using a name to make identity clear to a reader, such as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince".


Blogger Terence said...

This post makes me wonder why the Freeman sometimes uses old hamlet names in its datelines. For example, the Rondout Valley School Board meets in Kyserike, not Accord; the board in New Paltz, however, should be meeting in Ohioville (one of that town's seven historic hamlets, and arguably the one which maintains more of its identity than any others in modern times).

I'd love to understanding the rhyme and reason.

June 13, 2011 at 4:44 AM 

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