September 24, 2007 Archives
Covering Crime and Justice, Ch 5: Covering Crime and Its Victims (note the link goes to just one page in this chapter -- please read all pages in this chapter, through to Covering Rape and Sexual Assault Victims.) Also, refer to Crime Beat Basics and this little sidebar on the Perp Walk.
Covering crime and its victims requires perspective, persistence and patience. It's a beat where rookie reporters are often assigned, but it is one of the most challenging in any newsroom. Many victims never have had contact with the media. They feel overwhelmed, distrustful and scared. Imagine that after a horrible crime, a pack of reporters, with cameras and tape recorders rolling, surround you and yell out questions.
Choose two different crime stories, from an online soruce of your choosing.
One story should be written in the no-nonsense style of the Gomez article, or the article on the Delaware Sate University shooting we looked at in class on Friday. (These will typically have been filed the morning after the crime took place, or sometimes within hours.)
Another should be a feature story, like the article about the student who recovered her thesis. (These can only be written after some time has passed, but there is always a "news hook" -- such as the judge announcing the date of the trial, a jury announcing the verdict, etc.)
For both stories, consider where the suspect (if any) is on a chart of the US criminal justice system. It's very important when reporting crime and court stories that these details be accurate. (Is the crime a misdemeanor or a felony? Is it actually a trial, or just a preliminary hearing? Is the presiding official actually a judge, or some other official? Is your story happening in the US, or did a search engine point you to something that happned in Canada or Australia?)