Paul Berry, who leads the Springfield (MO) News-Leader newsroom, has never been a fan of his website’s mug shot galleries. They “serve as little more than a place for people to gawk at those who have been arrested,” he writes.
Good journalism seeks to bring clarity to confusion, helps us ask informed questions and provides us with the information we need to make informed decisions for our families, businesses and communities.
We’ve been struggling with how these galleries fit into our approach. While they serve as a record of arrests in our area, they raise significant questions. Was the arrest justified? Were formal charges filed? What is the condition of the person arrested?
The editor adds: “Many of those who are arrested need our community’s help, not our ridicule. …For now, mug shots are a machine we won’t be turning back on again.”
I asked Berry about reaction to this news. “So far, I’ve heard from a couple people via email and several on the website,” he says. “To a person, response has been positive. Most are giving support or saying thanks.”