A small journalism start-up with a big mission has raised the necessary funds to keep reporting in the District. Homicide Watch D.C.—the two-year old website that tracks every single murder in the District—reached its $40,000 goal on Kickstarter.
Now, according to the DCist, the site's publishers Laura and Chris Amico will start to find interns to revive the site. The wife and husband duo is currently at Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab for a ten-month fellowship. The site has largely been inactive for the last month.
"As soon as we find the right first person we'll start training them and get the site up and running ASAP," Laura Amico wrote to the DCist. "Being down three weeks is too long."
Homicide Watch received a bump in donations after New York Times media reporter David Carr wrote about its cause in a Sunday article.
At the heart of Homicide Watch is its mission statement: “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.” It’s a remarkable thing to behold — part database, part news site, it also serves as a kind of digital memorial for homicide victims in Washington. Their pictures are published, their cases are followed and their deaths are acknowledged as a meaningful event in the life of the city.
The couple applied three times for financing from the Knight News Challenge and also sought grants from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and J-Lab’s New Media Women Entrepreneurs and several others, including some nonjournalism foundations. Each time they came away empty.
You could blame it on the topic — murder is not anybody’s idea of a sexy topic for a Web site — but as Mr. Amico pointed out, newspapers have been using crime news to attract big audiences for a long time, so it’s more complicated than that. Neither hyper-local, which was all the rage for a while, nor strictly investigative, which is often a magnet for financing, the site didn’t fit neatly into the pigeon holes that foundations have at the ready. Like the victims it covers, Homicide Watch ended up falling through the cracks.
For now it seems Homicide Watch will continue its noble cause in the District—a cause that all residents, whether they follow the murders covered not, should be grateful exists.
IN OTHER NEWS:
* D.C. Council member Michael Brown reported late Monday that more than $100,000 went missing from his campaign treasury this summer
* Maryland Democratic congressional candidate Wendy Rosen withdrew from the race Monday after allegations of voter fraud.
* The MLB said the Nats paying for late-night metro service when games run late would set a bad precedent. The problem is that D.C. officials said they have no intention on paying for the service either.
* The Post’s Mike DeBonis asks, “Is Major League baseball to blame for the Nats-Metro impasse?”
* A consultant to D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray faced up to six months in prison for lying to federal agents, but because he has offered ‘substantial’ help to prosecutors he now only faces a sentence of probation.
* Early voting in Maryland costs counties $2.6 million, but hasn’t increased turnout yet.
* A judge granted a request to delay D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown’s sentencing from Sept. 20 to Nov. 13 “in order to allow the defendant to complete his cooperation.”