HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
April 9, 2009, noon

If you’re arrested in St. Petersburg, make sure to smile for the camera

A new archive of mug shots on The St. Petersburg Times’ tampabay.com isn’t wanting for viewers: 100,000 people reportedly visited the site in the first three hours after its debut on Monday. And in some ways it’s just a web iteration of the old police blotter — or a technically advanced version of the old Puritan public stocks.

The feature, which posts a linear gallery of faces oddly reminiscent of The Washington Post’s uplifting onBeing — call this one “onBeing Busted” — includes sortable information by height, weight, gender and location. The busts are typically for the usual drug possessions, DUIs, and other charges a newspaper cop reporter would likely rifle past, looking for something more newsworthy.

Unlike The Smoking Gun, to which is has already been compared many times, it does not limit its focus to celebrities or those accused of particularly spectacular wrongdoing. These are people who don’t usually command the public eye. And unlike some previous efforts, this one seems to be posting even people arrested for misdemeanor offenses — not to mention a few for whom the site says it “had trouble” figuring out the exact charge an individual is facing.

How much is this for reader amusement and pageviews, and how much is for civic impact? Does the lens of the web change the way we think about things previously available as public records, but obscured by their location in some booking folder down at the jail? The mugs stay up for 60 days, and the site helpfully notes “those appearing here have not been convicted of the arrest charge and are presumed innocent.” Just like Cops.

It happened that the Poynter Institute’s multimedia guru Al Tompkins was here in Cambridge Wednesday, and we asked him for his take on it, both as a journalist and as a Tampa Bay resident. (Note that Poynter owns the Times.)

POSTED     April 9, 2009, noon
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
News in a remix-focused culture
“We have to stop thinking about how to leverage whatever hot social platform is making headlines and instead spend time understanding how communication is changing.”
Los Angeles is the content future
“Creative content people are frustrated with the industry and creating their content on their own terms. Sound familiar?”
What to read next
587
tweets
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
339Finance media’s hottest club is Ello
Business reporters flocking to the platform won’t radically change journalism, but it’s worth asking why users gather where they do.
305Why Google is taking another shot at helping readers pay for news
Google Contributor is the latest tool the company has designed to help readers pay for what they read online. But its previous experiments in supporting paid content have had limited success.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
SF Appeal
Seattle PostGlobe
National Review
The UpTake
Bloomberg
Time
The Times of London
Gotham Gazette
The Weekly Standard
West Seattle Blog
Google
The Daily Show