When someone's been murdered, does it matter what they did for a living?
Many people have contacted BBC News to complain that we have made a point of describing the women who've been killed in the Ipswich area as "prostitutes". The problem must be the description, and not the language. At least once on Five Live we referred to the women as "sex workers". This euphemism hardly rebuts the basic complaint, expressed succinctly in one text message we received - "just call them women".
The complaint took two forms - we wouldn't bother to report that a murder victim was, say, a plumber, and when we report that the victim was a prostitute we are being judgemental and implying that her life was less worthy than another's. In the end I don't think either of these points bears much scrutiny. It all comes down to reporting the relevant facts.
In this case, the fact that the women were prostitutes was crucially relevant. It suggests, if nothing else, that prostitution is a dangerous way to earn a living and that a prostitute is more likely than most people to meet a murderer. That has to be the starting point of the police inquiry. The assistant chief constable of Suffolk has urged prostitutes in the area to stay off the streets.
And implying that a prostitute's life is less worthy than another's? We protect ourselves from that accusation partly by neutral, impartial presentation of the facts. OK, but sometimes people have an emotional response to the news however it is framed. That means there should be careful scrutiny of headlines and scripts to avoid the unnecessary use of emotive words such as "prostitute".
It also means asking the type of questions asked on Five Live this morning - i.e. when a prostitute is murdered, do the police devote as much time to the inquiry as they would to any other murder?