Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
On a rough day for American newspapers, investors aren’t buying Gannett’s story and Tribune’s not done chopping
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Dec. 21, 2009, 10:45 a.m.

KNC 2010: Homicide Watch D.C. focuses reporting on the victims

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re highlighting a few of the entries in this year’s Knight News Challenge, which just closed Tuesday night. Did you know of an entry worth looking at? Email Mac or leave a brief comment on this post. —Josh]

Laura Norton honed her crime-reporting skills in two years as a cops reporter at the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. Now Norton, a freelancer in Washington, D.C., wants to build a new way to gather information on that city’s murders. (There have been 135 D.C. homicides so far in 2009.)

With Homicide Watch D.C., she wants to aggregate a variety of web-based resources — everything from official court documents to news reports to posts on Facebook and MySpace — and then create layers of context through original reporting. And here’s the hook: All that information will be constructed around the victims, not the crimes.

What she’s proposing is a mashup of crime visualizations, homicide blogs, social media tools, and the online gathering places offered by the likes of Legacy.com. The “victim pages” would be driven by an extensive database custom built for the project. Here’s a rough prototype from Norton’s proposal, built around De’Vante Glober, a 16-year-old shot and killed on Jan. 7:

There’s a public service component to this as well. News organizations can’t cover every homicide, and they rarely go beyond cursory details on the few stories that do bubble up. This project attempts to fill that coverage gap for the people who need it most: family members and neighbors.

“I think that when a crime happens in a neighborhood, people search for this,” Norton said. “And when you have a homicide every three days, which is what D.C. averaged the first half of the year, news organizations can’t get to that so easily.”

POSTED     Dec. 21, 2009, 10:45 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
On a rough day for American newspapers, investors aren’t buying Gannett’s story and Tribune’s not done chopping
“I just don’t believe where the stock is trading” is not a thing you want to hear from one of your biggest investors. And in Chicago, some of the most prestigious positions in journalism are now either eliminated or part-time gigs.
No one cares that you were editor of your college newspaper: Reporter bios don’t improve readers’ trust in your news outlet
Crave the smell of barbecue? Love your kids? Won a Pulitzer? None of it seems to move the needle on how your readers perceive your work.
Maybe publisher cooperation is a path forward for news, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of public media
In Norway and Sweden, a survey finds some people won’t pay for online news because the news from their free public broadcaster is good enough. That’s a feature, not a bug.