‘Our best day is someone else’s worst’: Idaho News 6 moves away from mugshots, opens removal application

Idaho News 6
Posted at 4:00 AM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2022-02-17 12:58:35-05

Mugshots were previously common news practice in crime reporting — but “standard practice” does not always equate to best practice. Conversations of media ethics and race relations evolved, and Idaho News 6 practice evolved with it.

The use of mugshots, an image likely taken at someone’s lowest moment, became something used to turn a news story into entertainment or “clickbait.” Where something may have been printed in the newspaper or run on the evening newscast goes online and lives forever — leaving no room for the person to remove themselves from a snapshot in time, even if found innocent or acquitted.

The use of a mugshot in reporting usually portrays a specific moment in time that may not be reflective of the whole person, ultimately doing more harm to the individual than good.

Going forward, Idaho News 6 policy and procedure will reflect changes in our industry with the forward goal of being a part of the solution, not the problem. Mugshots published with crime stories do not reflect the entire community and instead can perpetuate harmful stereotypes of marginalized communities and economic classes.

This change is reflective of changes across the news business at large. Major industry players, including the Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, and recently, the Associated Press, walked back outdated policies as more information circulated on the damage they can do to communities. While news outlets nationwide have made this a policy, Idaho News 6 will be one of the first in the region to outwardly make the transition.

While this change in practice has been unofficially in place for several months now, our team now officially and outwardly commits to doing better for our community going forward while working to minimize harm from the past.

Read the full policy here:

In addition to refraining from publishing new mugshots with crime reporting, it is also equally important to give individuals a chance to have damaging images or a full article removed from Anyone with a mugshot or article previously published on our website can apply to have the images or full story removed through an application.

Instead of capitalizing on a moment that could be someone’s darkest time for the purpose of web traffic, Idaho News 6 will no longer publish mugshots unless there are specific circumstances where its inclusion is of absolute necessity.