Home > Uncategorized > Finding “the smoking gun”

Finding “the smoking gun”

Last week, I made a presentation to my Reinventing the News class about the website thesmokinggun.com, a website that, in their own words, “brings you exclusive documents–cool, confidential, quirky–that can’t be found elsewhere on the Web”. Using the Freedom of Information act to the extreme, thesmokinggun.com brings readers a daily collection of unusual and interesting legal occurrences, be it arrests, court cases, investigations by the FBI, etc. It also features a copious collection of mug shots that include not only famous figures like actors and crime bosses, but also shots that are just downright hilarious.

The Smoking Gun features crime logs and mug shots that are interesting, creative and sometimes downright hilarious

The Smoking Gun, originally a private site, was acquired by CourtTV (now known as TruTV) a few years ago. It is featured in a TV show on TruTV  called “The Smoking Gun presents: World’s Dumbest Criminals”, a series that features, of course, downright dumb criminals, something that is often found featured on the site.

The Smoking Gun is mainly for the entertainment of the reader. However, it is not always fun and games: they have been a major part of some renowned stories. For instance, the site was the first to run an intensive feature story exposing James Frey, the author phony who wrote A Million Little Pieces and appeared on Oprah as one of her recommended authors. Writers for The Smoking Gun exposed the fact that Frey fabricated accounts in his memoirs about his drug related arrests when they could not find accounts of his arrest or mug shots in police files, something that they are pros at.

I commented in class that the one thing I thought that The Smoking Gun was missing was involvement in the web. One is often hard pressed to find articles that link to outside sites, such as news sites or other resources when referencing news articles. Often times if one clicks a link on a page, it will simply bring you to another section of the site.

I also noticed that there is not a great amount of reader involvement in the site, either. There are weekly contests that the site holds every so often that typically plays “mugshot games”. An example of this is a contest they held that challenged readers to match the blood alcohol content of arrestees with their respective mugshots. However, there is no comments section or a section for reader submitted content: what appears on the site is totally the product of its administrators.

However, this aside, The Smoking Gun is a great way to see how ridiculous (and sometimes scary) the legal world can become. Be sure to check out their weekly mugshot roundup: it is sure to both shock and amuse.

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: