February 20, 2009

Caught my eye: Police blotters

Could ex-journalists who once covered the crime beat make money with their own online crime report? It's an idea Jim of L-Town and some other mid-Michigan boughtout journalists explored and rejected.

I think that's why this paragraph jumped out in the Baltimore Police Blotter turns 30 article:
"What is suprising to me is that the while newspapers shed features once thought sacrosanct, such as stock tables, the blotter remains one of the most popular items in both print and web formats. People complain when it's not in the paper, and the words "police blotter" are among the most searched for terms on our Internet site."
The writer, Peter Hermann, noted:
"Few newspapers have blotters anymore -- the New York Post still does -- and even fewer send reporters out to station houses to compile crime. Such lists typically come from headquarters, and are usually sanitized and contain only the most serious incidents, the incidents that command cares about and thinks everyone else cares about as well.

Community and neighborhood newspapers publish blotters. The one in the Baltimore Guide is very popular among residents, and I thought it was great timing when this week the New York Times wrote a brief sketch of a reporter for the Brooklyn Paper who still walks to the 94th Precinct in Greenpoint to compile a weekly blotter. The headline: "The Dying Art of the Crime Blotter."
I know that one of the first questions I want to know when my husband returns from his monthly board meeting for the neighborhood is what's interesting from the police log.

Sure, the Grand Blanc News and the Grand Blanc View post some police items. The Flint Journal will print the big crime news - a fatal accident, a possible murder.

But unless you know the officers and the meaning behind what's written in the police log, you don't get items like ones featured in Offbeat.

Unless you know the area, you can't spot a trend by neighborhood.

Unless you know the courts, you won't suspect the neighborhood crime spree ended because someone is back in jail.

I'd rather have a person involved with the reporting, but I'd settle for something like Everyblock - a news feed for your neighborhood. So far, Everyblock is limited to
The grant funding the program is ending soon and the idea of the parent company of the Journal's internet site picking up Everyblock is floating around the Internet. Founder Adrian Holovaty wrote about the program's future, prompting Metaprinter to suggest:
1) Gannett or Advance Publications buys the services of the entire EveryBlock team to incorporate EveryBlock into their news sites. Most importantly the team is tasked with creating logical, simple, cheap ad placement on news sites.
Doubt it would happen - even MetaPrinter gives seven more ideas. But it would help make the web sites go-to news sites.)


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