Thomas Huang wrote an article for Poynter called â€śWho does he look likeâ€?, referring to the killer of the Virginia Tech massacre. It discusses that the first night of the VT shootings, television news started calling the shooter an â€śAsian manâ€?.
Huang believes it was wrong of them to identify him by his race; itâ€™s like saying â€śblack manâ€? or â€śHispanic manâ€? in a story.
He gave an example of how racial and ethnic names can cause trouble. A photographer for the VT college paper, covering the massacre, was stopped by police and was forced to lie on the ground. He was cuffed, searched and questioned. The police said the photographer was a suspect matching the profile. Eventually he was released. The police were just looking for the killer; itâ€™s routine. However, what would happen if the police shot the photographer first than asked questions?
I feel that journalists shouldnâ€™t identify people by their race unless itâ€™s relevant.
When looking for the Virginia Tech killer, â€śAsianâ€? means basically nothing. It gets the police absolutely no where. Almost one billion people could answer to that description.
Itâ€™s a Journalistsâ€™ job to find as much information as possible and share it to the public. Itâ€™s important though to remain accurate and specific. â€śAsianâ€? isnâ€™t very specific at all.
They shouldnâ€™t have jumped the gun and reported his race as â€śAsianâ€? when it wasnâ€™t even the right race. It would have been ok to report the race if they were still looking for the killer- and they knew specific details of what he looked like. In this situation, the race description could have helped find the man.