My former colleagues at the L.A. Times noted a milestone in community reporting today: The Homicide Report has been active for a year.
Reporter Jill Leovy, who has been primarily responsible for the blog, wrote a feature about her efforts to record the facts of every homicide in Los Angeles, a city of an estimated 3.8 million.
“None of the more ambitious stories I’d previously done for the paper seemed quite as effective as simply listing victims, one by one by one,” Leovy wrote.
The project has become a magnet for the community and is often cited as an exemplar of online journalism, one that is both uncomplicated (a blog and an interactive map) and powerful.
Online, The Homicide Report caught the attention of other sites, including
- Martin Stabe and his Fleet Street 2.0 blog
- LA Observed
- The New Yorker
- NPR (not once but twice), and
- Yahoo’s “People of the Web”
But perhaps more significantly, readers responded to the Times’ efforts in a visible way. By offering a dispassionate view of murder in the city through the map, and a place for the public to comment and mourn in the blog, LAT did a service for its community, one that was rewarded with frequent site visits and comments.
I’m told visits to the blog alone numbered in the hundreds of thousands, making a case for news organizations to put time and resources into similar local projects that meld traditional, skillful, locally focused reporting with imaginative online execution.
What are some of your favorites? Do you have a project you’d like to share? Feel free to post a link and your story in the comments.