[2/25/20] – Crime Reporting: Newsrooms Rethink The Use of Mugshots

Mugshots, the often unsightly photographs of offenders that are taken at the police station after an arrest, have been widely used by many news and entertainment reporting agencies. In addition to helping agencies increase page views, they have also been considered to be easy moneymakers. Although there is no way to track the practice of using mugshots, a 2016 study of 74 papers by Univision’s Fusion channel found that 40% published mugshot galleries. However, the practice of publishing mugshots in crime reports is now being questioned by newsrooms who now realize that publishing them can negatively impact the lives of the offenders, especially people of color. A recent article published by The Marshall Project further highlights these issues, in addition, to identifying various organizations who have never utilized the practice or who have recently moved away from it. Despite the changes being made by some newsrooms, others still continue to use and exploit the use of mugshots for website popularity and financial gain.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.

The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.

Download the PowerPoint Lecture Spark for Crime Reporting: Newsrooms Rethink The Use of Mugshots



“Some newsrooms are rethinking their approach to publishing mugshots”

“Newsrooms rethink a crime reporting staple: the mugshot”


  • Writing: What impact can the publication of mugshots have on the lives of the offenders, especially those of color?
  • Debate: The publication of mugshots disproportionally impacts people of color.
  • Poll: Do you believe that all newsrooms should move away from the use of mugshots, especially in cases where the offenders are considered low-level and non-violent?
  • Short Answer: What are some of the reasons why newsrooms and other websites publish mugshots?

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Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Balora

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