Five teenagers between ages 12 and 16 allegedly robbed Nashville singer Kyle Yorlets as he stood in his back yard. They demanded his car keys. Yorlets refused.
One of the teens then shot Yorlets and all of the assailants fled in a stolen vehicle. The singer dragged himself back into his home and died a short time later.
The 12-year-old criminal detailed for police the details of their crime spree including the murder and various car thefts, one from Oak Grove, Kentucky.
The Nashville newspaper refused to identify the teens because of their “young age(s).”
Is this responsible journalism? Shouldn’t the public be informed of the identities of murderous citizens? What if any of these criminals somehow makes bond and is released? Wouldn’t the publication of their identities inform the public to steer clear of any of their associates who may or may not have been involved but are not yet charged?
The Associated Press stylebook addresses this issue without providing definitive direction. It’s open to local interpretation.
A community has the right to know if some of its citizens participate in assaults, thefts, rape, violence, murder, or any other mayhem that is dangerous to the rest of the community. Age is no factor. If a human violates community order with any of these heinous crimes, the public should be informed.
A friend of Yorlets describes the reverberation of pain through the dead man’s circle of family and friends.
People choose to live in a community to support each other through common use infrastructure, enlightenment, education, and protection. The basic understanding is that any dangerous citizens are to be removed so that they can no longer threaten the law-abiding majority.
The Louisville community has suffered noteworthy acts of violence perpetrated by youthful offenders who are then protected with a cloak of obscurity by some media outlets. This is depraved dereliction of duty.
My own 28-year-old son and a female friend were accosted on Cherokee Road in the Highlands on a summer night in 2017. Two youths put a gun to my son’s head and made him beg for his life as they robbed both victims.
No biggie. Youthful indiscretion. No one died. Forget about the emotional trauma inflicted on my son and his friend.
Let’s protect the identity of these depraved youths because, well, they could become upstanding citizens some day! Never mind that they might cross paths with your kid tomorrow night on a Louisville sidewalk.
Local media’s mission is to inform the public of inherent danger. Media steps up with BREAKING NEWS if there is a gas leak, wild animal on the loose, dangerous weather approaching, etc. but often masks the names of young criminals.
The thought is that the youth will rehabilitate and mature to become a helpful members of society. Reality can’t be hidden. Just like a dated tweet or an outrageous high school yearbook post that comes back to haunt politicians or celebrities, youthful crime must be included in a person’s resume.
There is no defined aging moment that launches potential acts of depravity. In the case of “underage” terrorists, media has a duty to alert the public when killers or violent, deranged, sociopathic offenders live nearby. They’re still terrorists, capable of creating mayhem on innocent citizens in any community.
Just like smoke detectors, media has a duty to alert otherwise uniformed society that predators are on the prowl.
Some media outlets, particularly broadcast and online, did the right thing by informing the public with images and names of at least 3 of the Nashville suspects because they were 14 or older. But most of the Nashville TV stations limited their information to ages of the suspects without using names or photos.
Society has the right to know the names and images of predatory terrorists who use violence against others. Do your job, media. Inform the public.
Other than the few publications that value community safety above outdated notions of childhood innocence, most media are coddling criminals instead of informing the law abiding citizens of youthful terrorism.
Worldwide media showed very little restraint in naming and demonizing 16-year-old Nick Sandmann, the Covington Catholic student whose crime was smirking at a grown man beating a drum in his face after a group of other grown men hurled homophobic and demoralizing slurs and threats at Sandmann and his classmates.