Yesterday, the Commercial Appeal began its “True Crime” reporting series. It is an encouraging sign for Memphis’ local paper. Crime and how to deal with it is the most important theme running through the city. The opening section is focused, well thought out and the design/layout is excellent. This is what a local daily should do. It takes both a wide view of crime over the last decade, and brings specific examples into focus. It is a very satisfying read.
With such an ambitious project, this represents a huge opportunity for the paper to highlight its web presence. There is not enough room for all the photos, interviews and information this story will generate in the Sunday paper. This is the Internet’s opening.
Currently, the website features some interesting maps regarding homicides over time. I just wanted more. The CA does a good job of putting the raw data that can be mined online. This should allow some motivated citizens to look for their own patterns. I hope they take advantage. Journalism is often at its best when there is a hungry and skeptical public pushing back and contributing. If that does happen, there is a chance that the CA’s website can be the go-to place for discussion about Memphis’ defining issue. That is a very good sign.
It is my hope that the paper will galvanize itself around the series. I believe that the online department is the perfect medium to air out all of the other angles of this story that the dead tree version just does not have to room to cover. The print version absolutely shined today. I hope the website follows.