Mugshot-filled tabloid ceases print edition
Controversial publication that charges to remove photo still online. ‘Us poor schmoes on staff just ain’t got the cash to put out the print version ourselves.’
Busted, a $1 tabloid infamous for printing mugshots of people arrested in Austin, is no more.
At least, not in print. In a profanity-laced letter to the paper’s “amazing, scum-loving readers,” editors announced that the edition of Busted printed last week will be their last.
The 20-page tabloid, widely available at convenience stores and bars around the city, had become controversial for mass printing of jail photos — as well as making people pay to take the mugshots off its website, www.bustedmug shots.com.
The website charges at least $98 to remove a mugshot within 20 business days. A “rush option” removes the mugshot within two days and says website personnel will “contact thirdparty search engines and take steps to remove the record from any search results related to this record.” That costs $178.
Mugshots and other court documents are public records obtained from law enforcement agencies.
Busted’s farewell note — addressed to “crackaddled CapMetro riding miscreants, stoned hipsters, dude bros with three-plus DWIs” and others — offered little details about its fate.
“We have some sad news for you, our beloved hideous readers,” it reads. “Our backers are moving on to bigger and more lucrative things, and the rest of us poor schmoes on staff just ain’t got the cash to put out the print version ourselves.”
The note says “Busted’s online presence will soon be expanding ... soon you’ll be actually be able to see where crimes have happened around you on
Busted’s farewell note a map of your area.”
Printing mugshots en masse led to a great deal of controversy, and in some cases vitriol, from the people who appeared in the tabloid. Many complained that they lost jobs or were unable to find work after their mugshot came up in a Google search of their name.
Though the tabloid notes that all suspects who appear within their pages are innocent until proven guilty, the Internet is littered with angry complaints about its business practices.
But those with a bone to pick could find little recourse within its pages. Unlike nearly every publication, it has no listing of its staff, where its editorial offices are located or how to contact them, or even where it is printed.
The AmericanStatesman attempted to reach Busted representatives last week, but neither Ryan Russell, listed in recent business filings as the company’s manager, nor Kyle Prall, listed as the corporation’s organizer, answered messages by the end of Friday.
Hazel Dickey, who works at a holistic health center in an office at 16th and Nueces streets the paper left a year ago, said she still gets angry, often tearful people coming in to ask the tabloid to take their mugshot off the Web.
“I’ve had people come in here so upset,” Dickey said. “Apparently you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty, but that magazine doesn’t treat it that way.”