Newspapers Catch Mug-Shot Mania

Police photos are becoming cash cows for newspaper websites. But is it ethical journalism?

Eric Tucker / Getty

When Laurie, a 20-something saleswoman in Tampa, Fla., got pulled over this summer for a minor traffic violation, she (and the police officer) discovered that her driver's license had expired. She was arrested for that misdemeanor, was released and dutifully got her license renewed the next day.

Her case is hardly fodder for the crime pages. But since this is the Internet age, Laurie got her mug shot, name and arrest data splashed on TampaBay.com, the website of the Pulitzer-winning St. Petersburg Times. Mug Shots, a prominent fixture on the site's home page since it debuted earlier this year,...