This spring, in response to national protests over the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Gannett, the largest newspaper company in the U.S., announced it would end the practice of publishing mugshot galleries which disproportionately target people of color who have not yet been found guilty of a crime. Gannett said that mugshot galleries presented without context may feed into negative stereotypes and are of limited news value.
Unfortunately, the Journal Times is not owned by Gannett. In a city which has been ranked as the second worst to live for African Americans in the U.S., the Journal Times publishes mugshot galleries almost daily as of late. Of the five Wisconsin newspapers owned by parent company Lee Enterprises, the Journal Times is the only one that still does.
Mugshot galleries generate pageviews to satisfy advertisers. The long lasting damage they cause is real. Most importantly, mugshot galleries are not a replacement for news stories which inform and keep communities safe.
It is time for the Journal Times to take responsibility and join the rest of our state’s newspapers and end this practice.