A story that didn’t fit in the paper

I was skimming Mark Glaser’s Jennifer Woodard Maderazo’s round-up of online mappety map goodness at MediaShift a minute ago when I saw a link to the LA Times crime blog Homicide Report and remembered that it was one I wanted to check in on as a reference point for something we’re taking about brewing up at work.

And the first post I saw was something far more important than a quick brief on a reported homicide to add as a point on a map:

“One reporter? One single reporter?” Solomon Martin, 71, was forthright about what he thought about a reporter for The Homicide Report walking down his Compton street last month after a homicide. “They send you, by yourself? Where are your lights? Where are your trucks? Your cameras?” he demanded. “You can tell your supervisor that I was displeased! Displeased with you coming out here with a little digital camera–a little digital camera–for this! Where are your trucks?” Martin, a retired school-district worker, assumed a look of disgust. “One single reporter,” he repeated. “To do a story that will be three lines on page 20.”

He’s right, of course, but now the story of his dissatisfaction is told — and the good questions are asked about covering murders in a city of 11 or 12 or 13 million people.

Why? Because there’s this blog, see, and there’s actually a reporter spending a part of her day just covering murders in L.A. by doing bits of journalism and posting them to an online stream of news and a map mashup.

Journalists provide the public with information. And obviously, the public provide journalists with information.

In this case, the information was about the relationship of the source to the coverage, of the community to the coverage, of the victim and the suspect to the coverage.

And now the readers of the L.A. Times online have that information, too.

Is one reporter with a point-and-shoot enough to cover a homicide?

It appears to be enough to tell an important part of the story.

2 Replies to “A story that didn’t fit in the paper”

  1. Slightly off-topic, but if the reporter is going out solo, I really hope police already caught the killer…

  2. Very good observations, Ryan. It brings to mind my time working on the Metro copy desk at The Washington Post more than 10 years ago. Every night, someone had to copy edit the briefs. What are the briefs in the Metro section of a big-city daily? Mostly crime. What are the most important crimes? Homicides. But after months of editing these, and also writing the cramped headlines, I really understood that writing “SE man, 19, shot, killed” one time doesn’t tell us much — and writing it four or five times in a single month tells us a lot.

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