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Why Some Kansas City Newsrooms Are Changing The Way They Use Mug Shots

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A composite image of three tintype mug shots from the 1850s and 1860s.
Missouri Historical Society
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The Missouri Historical Society is home to some of the country's oldest mug shots, like these tintypes from the 1850s and 60s.

Mug shots often carry an implication of guilt prior to sentencing, and have disproportionately affected communities of color and lower income.

"This is really just about us listening to the community, and having more transparency and accountability with how we use these photos," said Dia Wall, of 41 Action News.

When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Whether it’s something happening right now or something that happened 100 years ago, some stories don’t fit in the short few minutes of a newscast. As a podcast producer at KCUR, I help investigate questions and local curiosities in a way that brings listeners along for adventures with plot twists and thought-provoking ideas. Sometimes there isn’t an easy answer in the end – but my hope is that we all leave with a greater understanding of the city we live in. Reach me at mackenzie@kcur.org or find me on Twitter @_macmartin.
Chris Young is an Assistant Producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact him at chrisy@kcur.org.