Cheap, Exploitative Publishing, Cashes-in on Mug Shots

iMediaEthics publishes international media ethics news stories and investigations into journalism ethics lapses.


Home » Media's Future»

No celebrity mug shots here-- just your friends and neighbors faces published by the bunch for readers entertainment.

Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN reported that mug shots have “have a raw entertainment value. Americans seem to be titillated by images of arrestees, and several media outlets are capitalizing on it.” McLaughlin said, “Online newspapers such as Newsday and the Palm Beach Post run sections of nothing but mug shots of people arrested the night before. Other Web sites, such as, intermingle celebrity and historical mug shots with those of average Joes and Janes. There are also numerous books — ‘Least Wanted’ and ‘Booked,’ among them — dealing in mug shots, both famous and layperson.”

Tim Burke, the Palm Beach Post’s deputy managing editor, told CNN that the mug shots of everyday folks are “hugely popular” and garner thousands of web clicks a day. Sounding rather cynical perhaps, McLaughlin repeated what Burke told him were the three reasons for the mug shots success: “They are generally cheap or free to obtain, readers enjoy them, and they’re ‘legally safe’ to publish, meaning you can’t be sued for printing what is essentially a government document.”

Apparently there is a whole publishing industry surrounding regular folks’ arrests served as just cheap, plain-vanilla mug shots with a little information–such as the person’s name and charge on the side. McLaughlin listed Local MugSHOTS, Jail, Cellmates, Busted, Gotch-ya! among them. The publications “seem to” thrive in the low to middle income areas where the crimes occur according to Max Cannon.  He is reaping the success of cheap content as publisher of Local MugSHOTS–published in nine states, with a circulation of 250,000. Will the Pulitzer Prize committee need to add a new category soon ?

Submit a tip / Report a problem

Say Cheese! Cheap, Exploitative Publishing Cashes in on Mug Shots

Share this article:

Comments Terms and Conditions

  • We reserve the right to edit/delete comments which harass, libel, use coarse language and profanity.
  • We moderate comments especially when there is conflict or negativity among commenters.
  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *