Police and crime reporting

2 things newsrooms everywhere should do to cover the cops and the community

There are two very important things newsrooms should do in every community to document the relationship between the police and the community. Analyze the data and policies of your law enforcement agencies What’s the racial breakdown of the force? Do officers have to live in the city or county where they work? How many excessive force complaints were filed over … Read More

Access to police body camera videos: The Wild West of open records requests

This is another in a series of articles by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press covering legal issues that affect journalists. RCFP’s Jack Nelson-Dow Jones Foundation Legal Fellow Adam A. Marshall wrote this article. A Los Angeles Police officer wears an on-body camera during a demonstration for media in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes,File)Police departments across … Read More

Crime coverage in Chicago may be too good

Chicago is widely known as “Chiraq” or the “murder capital” even though its murder rate is much lower than in past years and in many other cities. Ironically this may be a function of local media’s attempts to do a better job reporting on homicides and crime There was a time when reporters just didn’t cover many crime – … Read More

Public usually has right to know names of officers who used deadly force, court rules

Los Angeles Times "Vague safety concerns" don't trump the public's right to know the names of officers involved in shootings, the Supreme Court of California ruled Thursday. The justices were responding to a case that arose from the Los Angeles Times' efforts to learn the names of officers in Long Beach, California, who shot Douglas Zerby, a 35-year-old man holding a garden hose nozzle, 12 times. The Long Beach Police Officers Association argued that releasing the names "would endanger officers and their families because home addresses and telephone numbers can be obtained on the Internet," Maura Dolan reports in the L.A. Times. The ruling says that "if it is essential to protect an officer‘s anonymity for safety reasons or for reasons peculiar to the officer's duties" — if the officer is undercover, perhaps — "then the public interest in disclosure of the officer‘s name may need to give way." But that didn't apply in the Zerby case, the court said. Read More

How to cover what comes next in the Pennsylvania school stabbing case

Pittsburgh-area newsrooms now must live through the reality of covering a mass casualty attack, just as journalists near Fort Hood, Texas, did last week. They will seek answers about how a student at the Franklin Regional Senior High School in Murrysville, Penn., slashed and stabbed 20 people Wednesday morning. For months, journalists will tell stories of heroism and panic, of … Read More

No-knock policy bars TV station staff from rapping on crime suspects' doors

A Houston television station is telling its staff not to knock on the doors of crime suspects. The station issued a memo saying it is too big a risk to journalists’ safety, but others see the move as a way for stations to protect themselves legally. And the president of the Society of Professional Journalists says such a broad order … Read More

Joe McGinniss, scourge of politicos and chronicler of crime, dies at 71

Associated Press | Los Angeles Times  Stories about author-journalist Joe McGinniss are re-emerging in the wake of news that he died Monday in a Worcester, Mass., hospital from complications of prostate cancer. He once moved next door to Sarah Palin to gather material for his unauthorized biography about her, according to the … Read More

Hyperbolic to sensitive, how news outlets treated dramatic car crash video

The 55-second cell-phone video of an SUV going the wrong way on the Interstate, smashing into a sedan and exploding into a fiery ball that killed five people quickly sky-rocketed to one of the most viewed videos ever on the Tampa Bay Times’ website. It’s also a case study to examine how different newsrooms treat difficult content. The Tampa Bay Times, which Poynter owns, ran the whole video, unedited, along with the sound. The Tampa Tribune ran the video without the sound. WTSP and WFLA used small portions of the video in a package, but then stopped using it, as did Fox 13. ABC Action News used a tight clip of the video in two packages. Bay News 9 ran the video but truncated it before the crash. Read More