Local 3 News is using fewer mugshots to tell crime-related stories. This applies to television newscasts, Local3News.com, and social media feeds.
A mugshot is often the worst picture a person will take and in today’s digital world, that picture can live forever.
A mugshot shows up in a search even if charges are dismissed. That picture can also show up after someone completes their sentence and attempts to turn their life around.
Mugshots are easy to come by and give journalists an immediate visual for a story, but we believe there should be more thought put into when they are used.
Publishing mugshots can disproportionately affect people of color and low-income neighborhoods. Putting those mugshots on television and online can potentially reinforce stereotypes that Local 3 News recognizes can harm our community.
For these reasons, Local 3 News will begin using fewer mugshots to tell crime-related stories. This applies to television newscasts, Local3News.com, and social media feeds.
Local 3 News will only use a mugshot under these circumstances:
- Police are looking for a suspect and a picture will help our audience identify them.
- Authorities identify a suspect as a threat to the public.
- Sharing the photo may help additional victims come forward.
- The mugshot helps differentiate between people with a common name.
In addition, Local 3 News has established a process to review requests for removal of names or mugshots from old stories associated with minor crimes.
These changes are being made because we recognize the importance of our words and our actions. In our newsroom, we constantly weigh newsworthiness and harm in an effort to make ethical decisions while delivering accurate and fair news coverage.
You can send feedback or questions to Local 3 News News Director Megan Roberts.