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National

Newsrooms Rethink a Crime Reporting Staple: The Mugshot

[themarshallproject.org – 2/11/20]

Some are red-eyed from crying, others visibly drunk. Some sport black eyes or jarring face tattoos. Occasionally, one offers an addled grin.

Online mugshot galleries, where news organizations post rows of people who were arrested, once seemed like an easy moneymaker for struggling newsrooms: Each reader click to the next image translated to more page views and an opportunity for more advertising dollars.

Published in partnership with Poynter.
But faced with questions about the lasting impact of putting these photos on the internet, where they live forever, media outlets are increasingly doing away with the galleries of people on the worst days of their lives.

Last month, the Houston Chronicle became the latest major paper to take that plunge. At an all-hands staff meeting, the paper’s editors announced their decision to stop posting slideshows of people who have been arrested but not convicted—and who are still presumed innocent under law.

“Mugshot slideshows whose primary purpose is to generate page views will no longer appear on our websites,” Mark Lorando, a managing editor at the Chronicle, later explained in an email to The Marshall Project. “We’re better than that.”

The news quickly made it onto Twitter, garnering praise from readers, defense lawyers and even law enforcement.

“Thank you, @HoustonChron for doing the right thing,” tweeted Jason Spencer, spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m hopeful that other media outlets and law enforcement agencies will follow your lead and rethink the practice of publicly shaming arrested people who haven’t been convicted of a crime.”

Read the full article

 

Join the discussion

  1. Tim in WI

    In other words, the news org is dumping a vendor of unproven dirt.
    AND suggests benevolence is the reason.
    Plenty of that going on in the cyberspace. Being pretentious and even wholesale pretending are commonplace on the world wide web.
    The American people are “click bait” for failing newsrooms. Hyper sensationalism rules in the common culture of propaganda by competing extremists. Money is indeed speech if you got it.

    • AJ

      “I’m hopeful that other media outlets and law enforcement agencies will follow your lead and rethink the practice of publicly shaming arrested people who haven’t been convicted of a crime.”
      —–
      But the practice of publicly shaming people who have been convicted is okay? Then again, I’m just happy they’re admitting posting such information is shaming. Hey SCOTUS, contrary to your ivory tower ideology, mugshots are indeed sometimes considered shaming.

  2. Facts should matter

    “I’m hopeful that other media outlets and law enforcement agencies will follow your lead and rethink the practice of publicly shaming arrested people who haven’t been convicted of a crime.”

    But they’re totally on board and condone publicly shaming anyone with a SeX OffEnSe in perpetuity on the Internet! So shaming people in the interest of “public safety” is socially acceptable?

    Talk about irony sliding off a cliff and falling on bullshit mountain..

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