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Great explanation of the Washington Posts’ Homicide Watch site in CJR: – Joe Murphy

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Great explanation of the Washington Posts’ Homicide Watch site in CJR:

This is what Clay Shirky wrote about Homicide Watch in this excellent article, WaPo must transform to survive.

A good example of altered process has sprung up in the Post’s back yard: Homicide Watch. The website covers every murder in DC. (Contrast the Post’s embarrassingly selective coverage.) The front page lists breaking news on homicides and updates on existing cases; there is a page for every victim as well (and one for every named assailant). Every update tied to a particular murder is posted on the victim’s page, providing a chronology of the investigation and any subsequent trial. The comments on the victim pages, heartbreaking and vital, serve as a rolling eulogy for one of most murder-prone cities in the country.

Because the content is so intertwined (the pages of multiple victims in the same assault are linked, as are the pages of the victim and the accused), Homicide Watch is more like a database than a news wire; each additional detail posted raises the value of the whole collection, a pattern that copies more from Wikipedia than from the traditional newspaper coverage.

Homicide Watch provides far broader crime coverage than the Post, coverage of clear value to the community, and does so in a way that makes that value cumulative, rather than just spinning out updates on the hamster wheel. In comparison with the Post, though, the most important thing about Homicide Watch is that they do all this with two employees: Laura Amico as the editorial voice, and her husband, Chris, who developed the platform and works part time.

When a two-person outfit can cover such a critical issue better than the reigning local paper, with much less overhead, it’s evidence that doing more with less is possible, but it’s also evidence that this requires far more than reducing expenses. Homicide Watch isn’t just a tight operation (though it is that); it’s a brilliant re-imagining of what it means to be a news outlet.

Posted in Ideas, Snippets. Tagged with , , , , .

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