Adding weight, not stereotypes, to headlines

Descriptions in crime stories often create peril.

Most of the time, the problem is an overly general racial description: a black man in his 20s, a white woman in her 30s, a Hispanic man in his 40s.

On their own, those descriptions are virtually meaningless, applicable to so many people that they narrow the suspect pool by barely a drop. They also tend to promote racial stereotypes: dark skin = criminal, light skin = victim.

The world has enough problems without crime stories perpetuating stereotypes.

Enter the chubby robber at Sonic.

As part of the broader police description, “chubby” helps paint a useful picture of the robber. When used as the sole descriptor in a headline, “chubby” screams, “I’m fat, therefore I rob!”


Save the descriptor for the restaurant. Mainly, which Sonic was this?

That would have been meaningful.

(Thanks to Wayne for sending this my way.)

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