The Standard-Examiner decided to publish the name of the juvenile suspect last week in the alleged Roy High School bomb plot because his identity had been released by an official source.
Roy police identified 16-year-old Joshua Kyler Hoggan in a written news release Jan. 26 because they felt it would aid in their investigation by allowing more witnesses to come forward.
Our intention in publishing the name wasn't necessarily to help the police investigation. However, as the news organization of public record in the Top of Utah, we felt the public had the right to know who was, and who wasn't, a suspect in a plot of such potential magnitude.
Many 16-year-old boys attend Roy High. Just reporting that a 16-year-old male student had been arrested would have cast suspicion on a number of people, especially those who might have had contact with the other suspect, 18-year-old Dallin Morgan.
Some news media chose not to identify Hoggan. One television station identified him on its website but chose not to identify him on its newscast.
Not a very consistent approach, in my opinion.
Once we decided to identify Hoggan, we did so across all our platforms.
A lot of people don't realize there is no law preventing news organizations from identifying juvenile criminal suspects. That would be prior restraint, which courts have consistently ruled is unconstitutional.
Some states have laws restricting law enforcement from releasing the names of juveniles. Utah is not one of them, although police in some instances choose not to identify juvenile suspects.
Most news organizations that have policies against identifying juvenile suspects have them in place because juvenile court records are not usually public. Therefore, there is no way of following the adjudication of juveniles. Often, juvenile court records are expunged when the perpetrators become adults.
However, many news organizations make exceptions when juveniles are charged in adult court, or when the crime is so serious they feel the public's right to know outweighs the juvenile's privacy.
That was our determination in this case.
The 1999 Columbine High School mass murder in Colorado has made such news of utmost importance to the public. Publishing the name and covering the issue the way we did was a reflection of that concern.
TO THE LETTER: Some readers may have noticed that we have added "Editor," to the beginning of all letters to the editor published in print or online.
We did this to help distinguish these as reader opinions rather than news stories. Some readers, particularly online, have mistaken letters for news articles written by staffers at the Standard-Examiner. Part of this confusion comes from the way online readers may access a particular file.
Letters are listed under "Letters to the Editor" in the navigation bar on our home page at StandardNet. However, many online readers access the letters through direct links on search engines or social media promotion, bypassing the home page.
We think this subtle addition will help differentiate the letters from articles and avoid any confusion.
Andy Howell is executive editor of the Standard-Examiner. He can be reached at 801-625-4210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.