Changes at The Homicide Report
There are two media stories in January's Los Angeles Magazine that everyone should read. One is about the Santa Barbara News-Press debacle. The other is a little closer to home -- a profile on Jill Leovy of the LA Times' The Homicide Report (subsequently, NPR interviewed Leovy on The Bryant Park Project).
The blog, which set out to cover every homicide in Los Angeles County, is one of the most genius blogs out there, a gem at the Times. Yesterday afternoon, Leovy posted about missing cases, citing that blog did not, in fact, cover every murder in the county as it intended to. The reasons why are very telling about the complexities of murder investigations:
Homicides are missing from HR for many reasons. In some cases, lengthy investigations were required to determine that some deaths were homicides, and not accidents, suicides, or natural deaths. Some infant deaths fall into this category. Following this post are several produced by LAT staff writer Jack Leonard which attempt to address this fault. In addition, a number of cases were missed early in the year as HR evolved a system for tracking all homicides, and corrected flaws in its approach. Los Angeles County has 10 million people and dozens of police jurisdictions. The Los Angeles Times has never attempted to track all homicides before, and a considerable learning curve was involved.
Mistakes or omissions also happened because, in some cases, a victim died in a hospital very long after their injury, making it more difficult to link a death to the initial assault. Sometimes confusion over AKAs or discrepancies between various agency reports were to blame. And finally, the relentless demands of this beat have at times exceeded the abilities of this reporter, and names have gone missing because HR is guilty of lapses in vigilance. [The Homicide Report]