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Copy Desk Friday the 13th, Part 1: Mugshots

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by I Should Coco, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Used to be there were two words, attached to the top of a story, which caused more fear, hate and anger than any others for copy editors/paginators:

    "With Mug"

    It meant that a city editor or someone higher in the newsroom chain of command could recall seeing, at some point in the last three decades, a mugshot of someone mentioned in the story. This person, of course, had no idea where to find this mugshot, let alone how to attach it to a Quark page. But somewhere in the computer system, backup server, morgue filled with crop-marked prints or a random desk drawer, a mugshot may or may not have existed — and the copy desk had better find it, pronto.

    Somehow, in this age of smart phones and selfies, the horror of mugshots has worsened.

    Now the city editors and MEs don't even need to recall if there's an old mug or not:

    • Just comb Facebook for a mug of Jennifer Johnson. That's a fairly unique name, should be easy to find. No, we don't know what she looks like, just check who her friends are.

    • Ask sources to email you a mug shot. Sure, it's thumbnail sized, but it'll reproduce great in print.

    • I'm sure the team website has a mug of that player. It's in bitmap format? Hey, no problem!

    And don't get me started on obit photos. Sure, the deceased might have decent pictures of themselves, but their gadget-obsessed survivors don't want to bring a printed photo in to the funeral home (it's bad enough we have to pay for a damn obit in print, anyway). Just snap a smartphone photo of an old picture and email it to the paper. No need to take it out of the frame; dusty glass or the glare off it won't hurt anything.

    Finally, even the good ol' fashioned crime story mug has changed its purpose. It used to give people an idea who the arrested/wanted person was and how he or she looked. Now its sole purpose is a source of online clicks, like the old bearded lady at the circus.

    An example: Chicago Tribune

    Ooh, I wonder which one is the sex offender? Wow, that 25-year-old chick looks like she's 55 thanks to meth. Look how many missing teeth he has!

    • • •
    It's Friday the 13th, people. Any other mugshot horror stories out there?

    And look out for this guy. He likes to kill people having sex in summer camp cabins, so be careful out there tonight:

  2. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    Years ago, there was a sex scandal involving a local high school football coach. The baseball coach at a nearby school had the same name.

    You guessed it, when the article ran, it was with the mug of the baseball coach, not the accused football coach.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2015
  3. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Black guy's last name was Buck.
    Our mug style was last name only.

    Baron Scicluna likes this.
  4. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    I always enjoy being forwarded mugs embedded in documents.
  5. Desk_dude

    Desk_dude Member

    At the Houston Post, we ran a mugshot of a Texas A&M football player who had died. Turns out the mug shot in the media guy was actually a member of the band. Had to deal with the family of the band member.
  6. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    Before one of my old shops became fully paginated, the guys in the back shop had to size, print out and paste in all photos and mugs.

    There was a guy whose last name was Corn who was the subject of the story (I think he was a local high school athlete, but I forget exactly). Anyway, one of the paste-up guys used clip art of an ear of corn in the mug box.
  7. MTM

    MTM Well-Known Member

    We had a couple high school athletes who thought it would be funny to change identities when our photographer was taking team mugs.

    It wasn't so funny when one of them was involved in a car crash and the other's picture was printed. Their parents weren't laughing, either.
    I Should Coco likes this.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    That must have gone over really well.
  9. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    We could probably fill a good-sized thread with just football picture day stories.
    I went to one small, rural school once and they hadn't gotten their jerseys yet (or the coach was a lazy, clueless piece of shit who didn't want to go to the trouble of handing them out and collecting them again; either one). They had ratty-looking practice jerseys of every sort. I sighed and said fine, as long as there's a number we'll make it work.
    I get about a dozen players into a 20-person team and realize they only had about six jerseys they were taking off and passing to the next guy in line. Not all of them had numbers, either.
    Told the coach about it, and he had no idea why I might need jerseys with actual numbers on them.
  10. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    The solution to that is to get them to hold up a little piece of paper with their name on it in front of their chest for the photo.
  11. UNCGrad

    UNCGrad Member

    I was off on the day Derby-winner Barbaro was euthanized. My sportswriter worked the desk (and everything else). He put the Barbaro story in a one-column rail with our mugshot design for the photo and sure enough, used a headshot of Barbaro. I couldn't help but laugh.

    If only it could've been a horse with two names so he could've just used the last.
  12. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Our shop mugged out Barbaro at some point, too, UNC. I remember thinking we could just use the horse's head from "The Godfather" — who'd know the difference? ;)

    Also, there's columnist mug shots. Not that columnists have big egos or anything, but some of them want to change their column mug every other week. Hey, the camera can only do so much ...
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