On October 29th, 2020, King 5 broadcasted an investigation into protestors arrested during this summer of civil unrest. According to local reporters, the TV station “strongly implied” those arrested were looters and rioters, a refrain used by far-right counter-protest groups against the movement for police reform and racial equality. Local residents expressed concerns about KING5 helping to dox the activists through this investigation, a practice done by extremists to harass individuals and in some extreme cases cause violence.
Being arrested, and even charged with a crime, is not guilt or evidence. Until a jury has formally convicted an individual or a plea has been made there is no admission of guilt. Many protesters are needlessly arrested at large events and later not even charged. Implication of guilt by arrest is poor journalism. One might speculate that the use of politically charged language may be a cheap way to gain social media attention and ad revenue.
KING5’s broadcast mentioned that many of the people arrested come from areas outside Seattle, like Renton and Shoreline. Politicians and media across the country, including in Renton, have made claims about ‘outside agitators’ leading these protests, but they are found in almost every pocket of the country. It should be added, while an individual may reside in one jurisdiction it’s not uncommon one may work and socialize in others.
Local journalists and activists are encouraging those targeted by this KING5 broadcast or concerned about other poor journalistic practices to consider improving their cybersecurity: strong generated passwords, two-form authentication, and regularly updated passwords.
A Seattle news station is identifying and demonizing people for being arrested by local police during recent protests. The TV station strongly implies that everyone who was arrested (a group that includes local journalists) was “looting, setting fires, and turning violent.” https://t.co/8ttinD0wek— Erica C. Barnett (@ericacbarnett) October 29, 2020