In an effort to address the paper’s past reporting on crime and its impact on communities of color, the Boston Globe launched an initiative on Friday that will allow the subjects of past coverage to request updates or anonymity.
“It was never our intent to have a short and relatively inconsequential Globe story affect the futures of the ordinary people who might be the subjects,” Brian McGrory, the editor of The Boston Globe, told the paper. “Our sense, given the criminal justice system, is that this has had a disproportionate impact on people of color. The idea behind the program is to start addressing it.”
Those interested in requesting updates to past coverage can fill out this form, which will allow the individual to include relevant court documents, such as evidence of charges being dismissed. Though all requests will be considered, those from “people who have been found guilty of the most serious and heinous crimes are unlikely to be acted on,” the Globe said in an accompanying FAQ page. Public figures and people in “positions of public trust” will also be held to a “higher standard of scrutiny,” the Globe said.
In addition to past crime coverage, the “Fresh Start” initiative will also “consider requests about stories and photos that involve potentially embarrassing, noncriminal behavior,” the Globe said, but ultimately all decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.
The program comes as numerous other newsrooms across the country are confronting their approaches to crime coverage. Last year, the Houston Chronicle, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel and 26 other local papers owned by Gannett said they would stop publishing mugshot galleries, given that they tend to lack context and disproportionately feature Black and brown people, furthering negative stereotypes about people of color.
Cleveland.com also created a similar initiative in 2019 that allows people who have committed nonviolent crimes and have successfully petitioned a court to expunge their records to also request that the news outlet remove their names from stories about them.