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.’

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Pa­trick Ge­orge pge­orge@states­man.com

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.”

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