This afternoon we will be hosting a live chat with Laura Amico, creator of Homicide Watch.
If you haven’t heard of Homicide Watch already, well, you might not have been paying attention. Homicide Watch is one of the most remarkable journalistic stories of the past few years. Laura and her husband, Chris Amico, began the project in 2010 by launching Homicide Watch D.C., a data-driven platform for tracking the stories and circumstances of the city’s many murders. As the site’s mission statement puts it, their goal is to: “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.”
Innovative as the site was, though, it wasn’t shielded from financial realities. After a few false starts pursuing foundation backers, the couple turned to Kickstarter for support. Through the crowd-funding platform, they raised nearly $50,000, money that is now going toward building out an internship program for teaching young journalists how structured database reporting can promote better and more comprehensive journalism.
Homicide Watch’s long-term business plan is expanding the platform to other cities through partnerships with universities and news organizations. They’ve made progress in this regard, too — the Trentonian partnered with Homicide Watch last year to launch Homicide Watch Trenton and the Chicago Sun-Times hopes to have Homicide Watch Chicago online soon. (Full disclosure: the Trentonian is a Digital First Media publication. You can read an official announcement of the partnership with Homicide Watch here.)
Amico will be joining us from Cambridge, where she is currently one of two Nieman-Berkman Fellows, a new program at Harvard jointly coordinated by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. As Amico told Contents, she’s spending the year studying “digital criminal justice reporting” and exploring how the concepts behind Homicide Watch could apply to other types of reporting.