Albuquerque Station Will Withhold Victims Names

Here's you chance to play News Director.... 

By now, you have certainly heard the story of the 3 children that were killed and their mother critically wounded in a shooting in Albuquerque. 

The victims families all know the sad news, police have confirmed and identified the victims and notified all the family members. 

But, the police are asking the media not to release the names.

They won't say why? But they don't want the names made public. 

So, do you as a news organization give the names or not? 

KOB and their News Director Michelle Donaldson has decided not to release the names. She took to the station's website to explain how they came up with this decision:

December 07, 2016 06:06 PM

Our community is struggling to comprehend the loss of three young children taken from us in a burst of violence, leaving their mother critically wounded. The shooting in the Four Hills neighborhood Monday night has rocked the city of Albuquerque, the state of New Mexico, and the men and women of this news team. We share in your grief. We understand there is a need to inform the public that is balanced with our mission to make our state a better place through the power of journalism.

Albuquerque Police have repeatedly asked that the names of the victims not be made public. That is a unique request by APD. Records that identify victims of homicides and other crimes are generally open. Under New Mexico law, they are subject to closure only if disclosure reveals confidential sources or information that would seriously interfere with a successful investigation. Historically, APD and other New Mexico law enforcement agencies have followed the law without hesitation. In August, we mourned the tragic murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens who was named by police. Her death forced a state agency to answer difficult questions about how previous contact with Victoria’s family was handled. Also in August, we lost another child in an apparent double-murder-suicide. Eleven-year-old Nhi Nguyen and her mother were shot to death by her mother’s new husband. We learned how the girl’s mother had sought a restraining order in the weeks before the crime.

So how are we to handle this request from APD in the Four Hills case? Why are police handling this differently?

We have been in contact with the family and it is not a question of having the correct information. We know the children have been identified by authorities and family members have been notified. On journalistic grounds alone, there is no precedent and no reason to withhold these names.

After much discussion and soul-searching in our newsroom today, we have decided that the time is not today. We recognize that you may turn to another station and hear those names and see those faces tonight. You may open your newspaper tomorrow and read them. However, we have decided we will not allow competitive news interests to drive our decision-making. When the KOB news team airs the names of those young victims, it will be at a time when we feel right doing so. The members of our news team who have met with family members, have been briefed by police, and who have spent time in Four Hills agree with this decision.

In the days and weeks that follow, we will remain dedicated to answering the important questions raised by this tragedy. On the night it happened, neighbors told KOB Eyewitness News 4 they had concerns about the timing of the police response. So we put their question in front of police leadership. That’s our responsibility – to get answers for you. We know our community is hurting. And the details that come to light in the days ahead will be difficult. We pledge to you to stay focused on the things that matter: ensuring justice, accountability, and doing everything in our power to make this state a better place for children.

 But, now is the station going down a slippery slope? What if other people are murdered and their families ask not to report their names?

Is this censoring the news? 

It's a tough decision to make and I for one am glad I don't have to.

Been there. Done that.