By Benét J. Wilson, chair, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force & social media/newsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
I lived in Washington, D.C. on and off for nearly 25 years, and I remember back in the day when the nation’s capital was the murder capital of the United States. And even though I live in Baltimore, I still like to keep up with the goings-on in my adopted hometown.
One of the ways I do this was by following the Homicide Watch blog, whose tag line is “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case. The blog, the brainchild of Laura and Chris Amico, documents every murder — from crime to conviction — in the city using an amazing mix of journalism, data, maps and social media. The blog has gained the respect of D.C. residents, long used to having their stories ignored. It has also earned the respect of journalists and journalism organizations for its efforts.
Founder Laura Amico has won a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, and a deal to keep the blog going fell through. So now she’s launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $40,000 to keep the blog running for a year by turning it into a student lab project.
The campaign ends on Thursday, Sept. 13 at 6:26 p.m. if it doesn’t reach its goal of $40,000, the blog will end. So here’s why I donated $25 to this campaign — and why you should too.
- The project appeals to my sense of diversity in media coverage by telling the stories of people who almost never show up in the city’s traditional media outlets.
- The blog relies on social media to find and confirm stories that others are missing.
- It is putting a human face on the devastation that murder causes. These victims are no longer faceless numbers.
- The Amicos are blazing a trail for those who want to put their own twist on the craft of journalism.
- With media companies firmly focused on the bottom line, we need to support compelling storytellers who aren’t focused on profits alone.
If I haven’t convinced you, read this Homicide Watch blog post and this blog post by Steve Buttry outlining the supporters of the Kickstarter campaign. Finally if this still doesn’t convince you, pick a few cases on the blog and read the comments from the victims’ families. Please donate.