An Open Letter to Our Readers

September 1, 2020

Our nation is engaged in one of the most important moments of national discourse in our history. Each of us must evaluate our role in creating a better future for our community. 

Since West View Media was established as a nonprofit organization in 2011, we have worked hard to root ourselves in the community we endeavor to serve. The West Side is our home and we know that we are accountable to the people who share it with us. 

In this moment of change and transformation, as we reflect on the role that each of us plays in building a community that is rooted in the founding ideals of this country, the leadership of West View Media elects to take action. As a volunteer-led organization, we recognize that we can do better to be more inclusive and to embrace our role as a news organization in dismantling systemic racism fueled by white supremacy that harms our community. It is in this spirit that we release this letter, intended to be one of many, that leads to the transformation of our organization. 

We are deeply committed to our beloved community and we will take concrete steps to rise to the moment. Beginning immediately, the leadership of West View Media is taking the following actions:  

Pledge 1 - Banning the Use of Mugshots: Among our core values as an organization is the belief that narratives matter. We seek to use our platform only in ways that celebrate and strengthen our community. Effective immediately, the leadership of West View Media is enacting policy, through our style guide, that will ban the use of mugshots (arrest photos) in relation to any of our stories. 

We believe that publication of images of people collected at the time of arrest often become a permanent record of the worst moment in a person’s life. In turn, these photos often cause damage to employment prospects1, educational outcomes2, and often begin a cycle of pain for the person that can last a life-time3. We do not believe that our platform should contribute to this cycle. 

In addition, we recognize the racialized nature of arrest records. Too often, Black and Brown faces are overrepresented in arrest photos. This flawed display contributes to stereotypes, toxic narratives, and systemic racism. 

Lastly, the use of arrest photos in journalism undermines the presumption of innocence4 that is central to our vision of the criminal justice system. 

These facts, taken together, means that our organization must act. 

Pledge 2 - Engaging Others: West View Media is a proud member of the family of organizations providing journalism to our community. We know that our role extends beyond our own figurative walls and we will not only take this pledge, we will actively work to engage other news organizations to take the same action. 

Soon, we'll call upon our colleagues in the journalism profession to end the use of arrest photos in Utah’s media ecosystem. We’ll work to call others into this shared work and do our part to dismantle the systemic racism that exists in the media. 

Pledge 3 - Continuing to Change: This letter is only the beginning of many and we commit ourselves, now and in the future, to the work of racial justice. 

We know that these actions alone won’t transform our organization in the ways necessary to rise to the moment. We are committed to evaluating and identifying the ways in which we can do our part. 

Thank you,

Turner C. Bitton
Executive Director   

Charlotte Fife-Jepperson
Managing Editor

 

 

Troy Mumm 
Board Chair  

Erik Lopez
Treasurer

Joseph B.V. Arrington
Secretary

Poonam Kumar
Board Member

Ayrel Clark-Proffit 
Board Member    

Collett Litchard
Board Member

Maru Quevedo
Board Member    

Heidi Steed
Board Member

 

 

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 1Benjamin D. Geffen, The Collateral Consequences of Acquittal: Employment Discrimination on the Basis of Arrests Without Convictions, 20 U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 81 (2017).  Available at: https://scholarship.law.upenn.edu/jlasc/vol20/iss2/1

 2 Scott-Clayton, J. (2017, September 28). Thinking “beyond the box”: The use of criminal records in college admissions. Brookings Institution.
https://www.brookings.edu/research/thinking-beyond-the-box-the-use-of-criminal-records-in-college-admissions/

3 Blakinger, K. (2015, February 1). Me and My Mugshot. Keri Blakinger. https://keriblakinger.com/2015/02/01/me-and-my-mugshot/

4 Deffenbacher, Kenneth & Bornstein, Brian & Penrod, Steve. (2006). Mugshot Exposure Effects: Retroactive Interference, Mugshot Commitment, Source Confusion, and Unconscious Transference. Law and human behavior. 30. 287-307. 10.1007/s10979-006-9008-1.