EDITORIAL: KSAL Mug Shot Policy Explained

You may have noticed a bit of a change regarding the daily Saline County Jail booking photos last week here on this website. We have always published the booking photos daily, and will continue to do so. But last week we tried something a little different, and put them in a prominent location at the top of the page where it was impossible not to see them.

There is debate around the country on whether this is ethical or not. Is it ethical to prominently display photos of those accused, but not yet charged, or convicted of a crime? We wanted to see what the reaction would be.

The reaction was overwhelming…against it. We received multiple e-mails, phone calls, and other feedback. Not one person liked the change. Some people even un-liked us on social media because of it.

Booking information is public record. Booking photos have been published in newspapers and on various websites for decades. We have published them in a not-so-obvious place for a few years. We make them available, but choose not to take advantage by sensationalizing them. We don’t take the tabloid approach by picking out the most attractive person from a group of mugshots, the one with the crazy hair, the one with a black eye, or the one with a neck tattoo, and then prominently display it in an attempt to attract attention. As a journalist, it is the ethical thing to do. And as a human, it is simply the right thing do.

All of the booking photos will still be updated on this website daily. But we will not sensationalize them, like other websites do across the country, and right here in Salina.

If you want to view the Saline County Jail booking photos, they are available in two places on this website. On the home page, near the bottom on the right side, we post them. Also, at the top of the page under the “Community” tab, we have a direct link to the Saline County Sheriff’s Office booking activity page.

Editorial by: KSAL News Director Todd Pittenger