We have seen the response to our story about the recent deaths of two infants, and would like to address many of the comments on our site, and on local social media.
We included details about the ethnicity of two children who died recently that, while relevant to us in a developing story, might have confused our readers and led them to assume we meant something we didn’t. We are very sorry for that, and for how many people were hurt or offended by this.
Editor George Brennan and I gave much thought to the decision of whether to include the ethnicity of the infants. It was an unusual coincidence, and that coincidence raised so many questions that we felt it was relevant. We ran the idea by several trusted sources, including some in the Brazilian community, who agreed we should include this detail. We never intended to imply that the parents were under investigation by the police, and were surprised to find people interpreting it that way. We are seeking answers to the events leading up to these tragedies, to explore why they happened to the people involved — whether language barriers played a role, for example — and how such tragedies might be avoided in the future.
We’ve been surprised that people assumed that by including the ethnic group of the families involved in a story that also mentioned an investigation by the D.A. that we meant to imply that these families were guilty of a crime. A district attorney opens an investigation any time there is an unattended death, which was mentioned in the story.
And though we are following several threads in our reporting that might help explain such a tragic coincidence, we could not share these thoughts without more on-the-record reporting. We can see now that readers were left to draw their own conclusions about why the families’ ethnicity was included, and we understand why that was confusing.
We can see that without sharing with readers the questions that were raised by these two deaths (and our search for their answers), we left part of the story open to interpretation. Where we sought to be precise, we opened the door to ambiguity.
We are sorry.