By: Joel Davis
Mardi Gras Melee Leads To Cyber-Rogues Gallery
Call it the ‘Net dragnet. With a little help from The Seattle Times’ Web site, Seattle police are seeking to arrest suspects who participated in a recent Mardi Gras riot in the city.
The Times, often regarded as a liberal paper not known for coddling the police, is helping the police arrest Mardi Gras revelers suspected of violent crimes via a unique link on its Web site that contains thumbnail photos of rioters that can be enlarged with a click of a mouse.
Times editors came up with the idea for the cyber-rogues gallery when the pictures, police video captures placed on floppy disks, were deemed too fuzzy or unwieldy for the print edition. On the Web, the often-blurry pictures can be enlarged and studied in a way they cannot be in print.
Times Executive News Editor Mike Stanton said the paper has run pictures provided by the police in the print edition in the past. The Mardi Gras gallery is a similar concept, he said.
“They were people who were on the videotape, committing crimes,” Stanton noted. “And on that basis we felt it was reasonable to put them out there and let folks decide whether they recognize anybody and whether they want to help.”
Added reporter Ian Ith, who is covering the story, “I think the reasoning was that we frequently run composite drawings and bank-security shots of single suspects provided us by cops and the feds, and how was this different?”
The people in the photos, police told the Times, are involved in assault, theft, and rioting. None is responsible for the most serious crimes: these include the beating death of a 20-year-old man in the crowd, and rioters who brandished guns during the melee. Those suspects have already been arrested.
Joel Davis (email@example.com) is West Coast editor for E&P.
Copyright 2001, Editor & Publisher.