Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taking a bite out of crime...Miami media style

Alex Romero is a 34 yr.-old Miami cab driver.

Early Wednesday, just after midnight as he was trying to eke out a living on Miami's mean streets he picked up a couple of young men on Biscayne Blvd. They held a stun gun to his neck and made him drive to a Little Havana neighborhood where they attempted to rob him.

Several Miami media outlets have reported the story:

Here's the Herald version.

CBS 4 has a version here.

Channel 7's story is here.

And finally here's NBC 6's coverage.

If you read all of the stories you'll notice that they all carry this sentence: "Anyone with information is asked to call the City of Miami Police or Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

So far, so good.

However, if the police ever catch the punks who terrorized Romero, it won't be because of any help provided by Miami's media....and especially not the Herald.

I was pretty sure if a cabbie transported two thugs in his cab over that distance he probably got a good look at them.

Just to make sure I called Miami Police this afternoon and had them e-mail me the press release and police crime report on the incident. Sure enough there was the cabbie's description of the men...including the fact that they were "white Latin males."

See for yourself.
Police report, page 1.

Police report, page 2. (two perps' descriptions highlighted)

Police press release with all perps' descriptions.

In many cases crime victims are so shaken that they are unable to provide descriptions that include anything besides the age and race of the perp, i.e.: "black male in his 20's." A vague description like that serves no purpose.

But in this case the cabbie was able to give height, weight, age, clothing description and race of the criminals.

But all of the media reports -- except for NBC6's -- had been sanitized and any mention of the perps' race or ethnicity was missing. The Herald's story carried all of the descriptive info on the perps contained in the press release, except for their race and ethnicity.

The descriptions given on the original police report and the press release differ slightly. A public information officer explained that the information contained in the police report is raw data given at the time of the crime and the info on the press release is the result of more detailed interviews with the victims.

All of Miami media outlets routinely include Crimestoppers information in stories of this kind, usually at the request of the police.

But all of them also routinely eliminate any mention of the perpetrator's ethnicity which makes no sense.

What's the point of giving a partial description and a number for Crimestoppers? It's just a waste of space.

As a journalist, I've ridden with police on many occasions and I've listened to thousands of hours of police radio traffic that included descriptions of subjects wanted for various offenses. The race of a subject -- when available -- is always mentioned. It makes no sense not to.

And who's the main offender here? The Herald, of course.
Why? Because they don't want to be seen as biased. When it comes to crime, the Herald is color blind. The oh-so politically correct editors at the Herald believe that reporting a criminal's race is just the sort of thing that reinforces racial stereotypes.

Herald insiders tell me that sometimes an offender's race might get included in an Internet story but that it almost never makes it into the printed version of the paper.

Of course the Herald has no such qualms when it comes
to distributing a DVD that some see as stereotyping a religion that has 1 billion followers!


  1. The reason, editors say, is if you describe the suspect as a tall black man with a goatee and an earring - it may seem like a detailed description - but it also ends up describing a large portion of black men. Or Hispanic men. Or white men.

    It is a stupid, politically correct rule started by Gannett and now obviously used all over.

    If there is a rapist out there, a newspaper should do its best to describe him rather than give a vague colorblind description.

    Or they shouldn't describe him at all.

  2. I've noticed this going on for years and when I look further into it, It usually turns out that an illegal immigrant was involved.
    The South Beach rapist that was also beating the women severely
    was an illegal immigrant that was working in a sushi Restaurant in a Big Hotel in South Beach. I Noticed when the young couple was kidnapped by those landscape employee's from orlando a few years ago(Raped and killed the girl,left the boy for dead) not one paper or news outlet from Miami to Orlando would give the immigration status of the perpetrator's.


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