The Sun Herald is not going to publish mugshot galleries anymore. In addition, the Mississippi newspaper is changing how it reports on crime, editor Blake Kaplan wrote, trying to cover fewer mundane crime stories and focusing on public safety or serious crime stories. The newspaper will continue, however, to publish mugshots with news stories on serious crimes, as needed.
“For years, we posted the pictures of people charged with felony crimes, and, again, it was a popular part of our website,” he wrote. “But the mugshot stayed a part of people’s lives forever, whether they were convicted or not.” Kaplan continued:
“Plenty of people have contacted us over the years to say they were cleared of the crime but that mugshot has prevented them from getting jobs. It turns up in background searches. And the mugshot gallery did not really meet our core mission of our news organization, to inform and serve the people of South Mississippi with news that affects their lives.”
Kaplan told iMediaEthics by e-mail that the reaction thus far has been “Mostly positive. I have gotten a lot of emails from journalists around the nation telling me they think what we’re doing is the right call.”
The newspaper plans to remove all mugshot galleries from its website as well.
The Sun Herald, a McClatchy-owned newspaper, is based in Gulfport and states on its website it has 137,000 print readers weekly and more than a million unique visitors monthly online.
Earlier this year, Cleveland.com said it would “greatly curtail our use of mug shots, restricting them to the most notorious of crimes.” The Ohio news site also started its own “Right to be Forgotten” program, allowing most people named as accused of a minor crime to get their name removed from online stories if their case was expunged.
Hat Tip: Andrew Seaman