Why do so many of the news stories about the runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks leave out the detail that she told the police that the man who abducted her was Hispanic? When you're making up a story about a crime, what motivates you to make the criminal a member of a minority group? I think leaving out this aspect of the story is an attempt to help her with her reputation. Why, we might associate this nice woman with Susan Smith, who drowned her children and then made up a story about a black man kidnapping them.
Newspapers that left out the detail: SF Chronicle, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, ABC News, Chicago Sun-Times, NY Daily News, Houston Chronicle, New York Times.
Newpapers that included the detail: NY Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution has a second piece, "One volunteer's perspective on Wilbanks: Charge her." The volunteer was especially angry that Wilbanks blamed a Hispanic man: "The Hispanic community has it tough enough. Some of them even volunteered with the search! Fliers were printed in Spanish."
Blaming a Hispanic man was an important fact that belonged in the report. Leaving it out was -- it seems to me -- an attempt to save Jennifer Wilbanks from additional harm to her reputation. I don't see how that sort of pity is part of journalism, and I don't see why someone who plays upon prejudice this way deserves pity.
UPDATE: WaPo's Howard Kurtz links to this post and agrees that the detail belongs in the article -- assuming you're going to cover this story at all, which is a questionable choice in the first place. Here's my critique of Nancy Grace's coverage of the show -- on Friday night, when she thought it was a new Scott-and-Laci.