Who says journalism is dead? Pshaw! It’s merely focused now on the seedier aspects of life and living, displaying alleged outlaws for all to see!
Mugshot photo galleries are increasingly popular features on newspaper websites, which are on blitzing crusades for ever more page views and the advertising revenue that accompanies additional eyeballs.
Big newspaper dailies still hanging around, like New York’s Newsday and the Chicago Tribune, have also quickly caught on to the trend. Mugshot mania is especially prevalent in Florida, where liberal public-records laws make it easier to obtain these photos.
“It’s a huge traffic driver for us,” says Roger Simmons, digital-news manager for the Orlando Sentinel, where mug shots garner about 2.5 million page views a month, 6% of the site’s total. The Palm Beach Post estimates its online police blotter, which streams its own ads, drew half of the site’s 45 million page views.
And Las Vegas has long been the home of local weekly tabloid magazines that display page after page of photographs taken of partygoers in the nightclubs and casinos, partying themselves into oblivion. It’s worked like magic for them, drawing in readers and advertisers, so why not a theme on a variation?
That’s the thought of the new kid on the Nevada block, Max Cannon, another publisher of the bleary-eyed and stupefied mugshots. He’s the founder of Florida-based SafeCITY Publishing, which for $1 offers readers a non-traditional newspaper, Local Mugshots, a brazen photo compendium of people arrested in Nevada for all sorts of nefarious and not so dastardly alleged crimes, including drugs, gang activity, DUIs, sexual crimes- or maybe just an expired driver’s license, much to the chagrin of many.
After being published in 25 cities across the U.S. – boasting 208 fugitive apprehensions nationwide since 2007 – Cannon has now focused his crosshairs on Nevada, creating the first West Coast version of the publication that has been around for about eight months. About 15,000 to 20,000 copies are distributed to 80 locations throughout Clark and Washoe counties in Nevada every two to three weeks. In Las Vegas, it is available at most 7-Eleven, AM/PM and Fills locations, and the distributor is working on increasing its presence to about 20 more locations.
Canon, who started the publication about nine years ago in Tennessee, can’t say for certain why it’s been so popular, but conjectures that it’s the possibility of recognizing someone. “There’s a good likelihood that at some point in time, they’re going to see someone that they’re going to see someone they went to school with or with, as opposed to watching something on America’s Most Wanted,” he says.
Stephen Bates, a UNLV journalism professor who teaches media law, begs to differ, feeling it is doing more harm than good. “It seems a little irresponsible to feature people who have been arrested and not been charged with any crime. It’s tarnishing people’s reputations.”