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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • how they get into this habit.

    If, for example, they were to say:

    "The perpetrator was seen leaving the scene in a blue late model Pontiac..."

    Then, they'd have a lot of apologizing to do if this was just some random person that observers believed to be the perpetrator who left the scene.

    In any case, the person who left the scene was a suspect, at least by people who reported them as such.

    They're just being careful.

    Even in your example, the person who broke through the glass and sped away may only be guilty of breaking through some glass. This may not even be a crime if the glass was owned by the person who broke it. To imply that this person is the perpetrator may imply that crimes were committed by that person and the reporter doesn't know that.

    Sometimes you do hear of things like "The suspect then shot the victim three times at close range with a small caliber hand gun..." Now, that seems to be a bit absurd.

    • In any case, it is wrong to speak of "the suspect" as having done the awful deed.

      In the counter-example you gave, it is still wrong to say "the suspect was seen leaving...", unless Joe Bloe, the man police say committed the crime, was seen leaving.

      It's not like we can only say "the suspect" or "the perpetrator". If witnesses say a man in blue jumper was seen doing something or other, then we (reporters) should be able to leave it at that, rather than be tempted to resort to what we think sounds like poli