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June 24, 2013, 12:27 p.m.

Homicide Watch’s Laura Amico: Journalism needs to be more like jazz, embracing improvisation

“Journalists must, I believe, be more agile, more open, more listening, and more willing to work as teams, take chances and improvise, if they are to succeed.”

You probably know Laura Amico from her leadership of Homicide Watch D.C. and Glass Eye Media, its parent company. The site’s model — the structured coverage of all homicides, from crime to arrest to trial — is an inspirational model for covering crime specifically, but also for rethinking beat coverage more broadly.

Laura’s been here at Harvard for the past year as a Nieman-Berkman Fellow, and as a capper on her experience, she gave a talk at Harvard Law on the intersection of jazz and journalism — or, more specifically, how improvisation should play a role in the creation, distribution, and support of news. Here’s Laura:

Improvisation theories, drawn mostly from jazz, have increasingly been applied to entrepreneurship, new product development, and other fields, but rarely, if ever, to journalism. Yet journalism is an industry built on improvisation, from the actions of reporters out in the field, to the deadline work of editors and page designers. More than that, it is an industry that needs a new framework in order to survive. Journalists must, I believe, be more agile, more open, more listening, and more willing to work as teams, take chances and improvise, if they are to succeed.

It’s an engaging discussion and worth a watch.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email (joshua_benton@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     June 24, 2013, 12:27 p.m.
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