Posted on July 23, 2009

Virginia Newspaper Refuses to Print Race of Wanted Suspect

Dave Gibson, Norfolk Examiner, July 22, 1:10 PM

On July 20, the Loudoun Times-Mirror ran a story in their online version about an armed robbery, “Four men robbed in Sugarland Run.” The piece went on to say that while the men were walking, three men approached them and one suspect showed the men his gun and demanded their money.

The article gave the description of the man from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office as “6 feet tall, 170 pounds, and was last seen wearing a white shirt and blue pants.” A tip line number for the Sheriff was given.

Now it would seem to me that a key component to the suspect’s description was left-out of the story. How could anyone ever help identify the suspect if they do not even know what to which race he belongs?


I called the newspaper and spoke with a staff writer who wished to remain nameless, who told me that the paper follows the AP Stylebook and that “all mention of race must be taken out of every story.”

However, the latest edition of the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook allows the identification of someone by race if it is important to the story. The guidelines state: “the term ‘black’ is acceptable for a person of the black race.” When offering a description of a dangerous suspect still at large, race is definitely important.

I was also told by the staffer that the suspect was in fact black.


I sent an email to Paul Smith, the executive editor of the Loudoun Times-Mirror, asking for an explanation, but never received a reply.


This country has now reached the point where we are so afraid to be called racist, that we cannot even give an accurate description of a violent criminal, which is of course, to the detriment of all races.

If anyone would like to send a message about this policy to the paper’s editor Paul Smith, the following is his contact information:

( 703 ) 777–1111

[email protected]

Comments are closed.