A map from Homicide Watch DC marking every homicide in Washington DC
US crime reporting site Homicide Watch DC has exceeded its target of crowdfunding $40,000 on Kickstarter which will be used to help run a "student reporting lab" as a way of ensuring the continuation of the site for the next year.
Founder Laura Amico, who set up the site in September 2010, was selected as a Nieman-Berkman fellow and announced last month that she would be going to study journalism innovation at Harvard, with her husband Chris who also works on the site.
Announcing her plans in August, she said they wanted to "train journalism students in crime reporting through use of the Homicide Watch platform", and give them the support required to keep the site running for the next year.
Amico told Journalism.co.uk at the time that they will still help the interns "through the one-year experiment", which they took to crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to raise funds for.
"Chris and I intend to work with the students daily. Some days this may just be a 'good job' check in. Other days it could be intensive editing sessions, or conversations about editorial approach and planning."
In a blog post today, announcing the successful backing, which at the time of writing had reached $45,883 from 1,047 backers with three days still to go, Amico said "we are joyful and we are grateful".
"We have witnessed incredible generosity, not just of dollars, but of support, effort, and emotion. And so we take this moment to say thank you.
"To our backers: thank you. You are making a difference in DC and in the lives of the students who will take this project on. I hope you stay with us and watch in the next year as the project grows.
"I especially want to note that so many of you stepped up in ways public and private, financial and otherwise, to insure the continued success of Homicide Watch DC."
She added that they are now "working hard to get the student reporting lab up and running just as quickly as possible".
"We’ve reached out to some of the local journalism instructors we know already and have asked for recommendations. We’ll be doing a larger push to the schools this week.
"We’ll be going directly to students, too; later today we hope to post information for students seeking positions with Homicide Watch DC."
The site will be back "up and running", she said, as soon as they have found "the right first person".
"Homicide Watch has been on hiatus for three weeks. And that’s three weeks too long."
Update: In an email to Journalism.co.uk Amico added:
"While we're very excited to launch the DC student reporting lab, we're also excited to test our theory that students can learn better reporting by using a database framework to guide their daily activities.
"We believe that structured beat reporting tools could provide excellent learning experiences for students. Homicide Watch, for example, guides a reporter through the process of writing crime stories by building a database out of the daily reporting efforts.
"This means that students are prompted for important information like victims' and suspects' names and ages, but also to record the contact information for detectives assigned to cases and more.
"We hope that this experiment with the DC student reporting lab covering homicides can be applied to other beats in other places as well. We want to eventually explore building frameworks around other beats, potentially leading to better training of young journalists in say, business, education, or public health reporting."
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