I’m not a big fan of mug shots. They may fetch visitors to a website but they don’t dress it up. A couple of years ago I wrote a column about mug shots that focused on the Tribune‘s web feature, “Mugs in the News.” The best I could say about it was that the Tribune did mug shots better than some other sites. The Trib had standards: if a crime didn’t rate a news story the alleged perp’s mug didn’t rate display. Even so, “Mugs in the News” was what it was—a geek show.
In this week’s media column in the print Reader, my subject is Homicide Watch, a D.C.-based website that tracks the district’s homicides. It’s also into mug shots; when a suspect’s collared the mug shot goes up, adding its sinister allure to the site. But the bar’s set much higher than the Tribune‘s. The only crimes Homicide Watch cares about are homicides. And there’s follow-up. Homicide Watch tracks every case through the courts.
“Mugs in the News” offers a mix of crimes. A lot of the news stories have originated in TribLocal, the Tribune‘s string of suburban sites, where on a slow day there’s no such thing as a crime too petty to cover. As for follow-up . . .