A poster on The Stars Facebook page made a plea that Ive heard from many others on a post about Craig Michael Wood, who is accused of the brutal murder of Springfield 10-year-old Hailey Owens.
By Derek Donovan
The Kansas City Star
Enough about this dude, she wrote. Society has to learn that when it highlights criminals, its glorifying them. Negative attention is still attention. The media is really going to have to evolve and change its focus for societys sake.
I have heard similar lines of reasoning uncountable times. While one can hardly call Woods booking mugshot glamorous, this readers underlying point still resonates.
In print, his image did run on Page A1, but it was quite small only about an inch across. The dominant image on the page was a photo of the crime scene, along with a photo of Hailey.
But online, Woods face has been a much bigger presence. Thats especially true as people have linked to KansasCity.coms coverage from Facebook, which chooses a photo to display with the link. Facebooks algorithm seems to prefer Woods mugshot.
Remembering of course that Wood has certainly not been convicted at this point, its still clear that some criminals relish the attention they receive while in custody. I know exactly why photos of the accused are so upsetting to many readers, even though the public also has a clear right to see images of those facing criminal charges.
I will always remember one particular photo The Star ran years ago on Page A1 of an accused murderer who had spotted the photographer and smiled broadly a gesture many readers interpreted as taunting her victim and society as a whole. Its a valid criticism, regardless of how powerful the image was.
An alternative often suggested: Illustrate crime stories primarily with photos of the victims, as theyre the ones who were involved against their own volition.