Journalism isn’t an exact science. Different people in the business can debate news decisions.
Case in point: All three local broadcast stations that air local news have declined to name the driver in the Delaware Park tragedy Saturday morning that resulted in the death of a 3 year-old boy.
The Buffalo News has identified the distraught driver as 28-year-old Christian P. Myers, citing confirmation by two law enforcement sources.
Channel 2 and Channel 4 have explained on the air that they have declined to identify the driver because he hasn’t been charged with a crime.
Channel 4 News Director Scott Levy explained in a text that it was “more of a standard journalism practice” than a policy and attached a Society of Professional Journalists code of ethics that noted journalists should “minimize harm and balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public right’s to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.”
Channel 7 has run a graphic explaining that the "driver's name not being released at this point."
The local news decisions seem overly protective of Myers, who has been painted as a sympathetic character by people close to him and have added that he suffers from narcolepsy and epilepsy and works long overnight shifts.
The media sometimes holds off identifying suspects. But no one is questioning that Myers was the driver. That has been confirmed by authorities.
He did kill someone, and he is under investigation in the death of Maksym Sugorovskiy.
By any measure, that is news. What is the harm in identifying him?
Naming Myers actually could be helpful to the investigation if people who know him or were with him before the crash can add any pertinent details about what he was doing before the tragedy.
I could understand if the local news departments were concerned about the safety of Myers. However, Levy said “that did not factor into not releasing the name.”
Journalists are supposed to serve the truth. And more truth possibly would come out if Myers was identified in news reports and the line that he has not been charged was added to the reports to give them balance.