Gannett, the parent company of The Ledger, has discontinued the clickbait practice of posting mugshots of all arrested persons on theledger.com and other news websites.
The move comes several months after The Ledger came under Gannett’s control following the merger of Gannett and GateHouse Media.
Gannett had already pulled mugshot galleries from its legacy websites before the merger, The Orlando Sentinel reports.
“The mugshot galleries disabled today were on legacy GateHouse sites to align with those standards,” Amalie Nash, vice president for local news at the USA TODAY Network, said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Readers going to the Ledger mugshot site are greeted with a simple page with a Gannett logo, the heading “Message from our editors” and this message:
We have made an editorial decision to discontinue the publication of mugshot galleries, or mugshot photos that are not associated with a story or other editorial content, effective immediately. Mugshot galleries presented without context may feed into negative stereotypes and, in our editorial judgment, are of limited news value. Instead, we will focus on the best ways to inform our readers by providing relevant information that will keep our communities safe and continuing to cover crime, as well as the public safety system. This policy change does not impact the use of mugshots associated with articles or other editorial content.
The same statement was posted on other former GateHouse newspapers in Florida and the rest of the U.S. on Tuesday.
The Ledger and other Gannett newspapers will continue to publish individual prisoner mugshots as part of normal news coverage.
The Lakeland newspaper introduced its Mugshots site on Valentines Day 2012. That sub-site generated a large volume of online traffic and remained open to all readers even after the newspaper put much of its digital content behind a pay meter in May 2013.
The move to remove mugshot galleries comes as protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis are sparking conversations about the criminal justice system and social responsibility.
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