Patterico's Pontifications

1/3/2008

Homicide Blog Changing Hands and Getting Scaled Back

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:08 am

In my year-end review of the L.A. Times, I had very little praise for the paper — but I made a point of praising Jill Leovy’s Homicide Blog.

The same day I published my post, it was revealed that the blog is getting turned over to someone else and scaled back:

The Homicide Report will change, but will continue in some form in 2008. The Times aims to maintain the tone, conventions and style of this report, although the reporting job will change hands after January and entries may be scaled back somewhat.

This is especially distressing because it means the paper isn’t willing to commit the resources to track every murder in L.A. Leovy recently acknowledged that she was unable to keep track of every single homicide in Los Angeles as she had originally intended:

The Homicide Report endeavored to cover every homicide in Los Angeles County in 2007. It has failed to do so.

. . . .

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.

No, names have gone missing because the L.A. Times assigned only one reporter to cover every homicide in L.A. It’s a ridiculous demand to make of one person, on a very important topic. Yet Leovy rose to the task, and showed she really cared about murders in L.A.

Even if the blog hasn’t been perfect, I respect Leovy’s valiant effort to try to meet the impossible challenge put to her. It’s been one of the few positive things happening at the L.A. Times.

But instead of pushing to commit more resources to the blog, to make sure all homicides are tracked, the paper is seemingly giving up on trying. I guess keeping track of all homicides in Los Angeles is just too big a job for the hometown newspaper. They can’t assign more people to it; how could they do all the Paris Hilton stories they need to do?

P.S. For a sample of what this blog has been like, check out this interview with LAPD Det. Sal LaBarbera.

10 Comments

  1. los angeles is a big city and there are so many murders there, no blogger could do justice to all of them in the space provided. not all murders are equally worthy of our attention.

    Comment by assistant devil's advocate (89eca3) — 1/3/2008 @ 6:42 am

  2. “not all murders are equally worthy of our attention.”

    Is it worthy of our attention to know the name of every soldier killed in Iraq?

    The L.A. Times publishes those names — in the California section — every week.

    Comment by Patterico (2df5f7) — 1/3/2008 @ 7:24 am

  3. I think both the names of the murder victims and the soldiers killed in Iraq are worthy of our attention. One more 5 full page special report on the poor undocumented worker (aka, illegal alien) is not.

    Comment by tired (bf886a) — 1/3/2008 @ 8:14 am

  4. Just wait til Mr. Zell assumes full control. This pud bought the paper with 6 billion of U.S. tax credits (effectively a gift fromt the U.S. tax payer). He has no real stake in the paper ecept to see it as a cash machine. The little dwarf (Zell) is notorious for cutting costs and quality. He is the definition of defining deviancy down.

    Comment by David Brown (d3a910) — 1/3/2008 @ 8:24 am

  5. is it worthy of our attention to know the name of every soldier killed in iraq?

    absolutely yes, and i salute the times for publishing their names. they were performing honorable service to their country, even if they were serving under a careless and incompetent commander-in-chief with no sense of the ultimate mission, and the more publicity the better as it might invigorate more citizens to question their leadership and help limit and define the mission toward a successful conclusion.

    murders in los angeles are much different things from battlefield deaths in iraq. some are poignant, yes, children, relationship partners, the occasional calculated scheme, but there are so many that a number of them become humdrum, routine, almost subliminal to angeleno expats: jose popped a cap into pablo after a dispute over exclusive sales rights at a streetcorner. somebody felt they got dissed in a nightclub and pulled out a piece. the sedan cut the suv off at an offramp and its driver was rewarded by a fusillade of 9mm gunfire. that’s an ingrained part of l.a. culture now, and of course you have a unique perspective as the culture vulture getting paid and charged with the responsibility of cleaning up all these messes (you couldn’t pay me enough) but they are all fundamentally different from battlefield deaths, after all, isn’t there more valor in knowingly going into harm’s way than just catching a random bullet on wilshire boulevard?

    Comment by assistant devil's advocate (89eca3) — 1/3/2008 @ 11:07 am

  6. If you want to know why every murder in LA is important, all you need to do is read the second (and third) comment here: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/homicidereport/2008/01/jason-grey-29.html#comments

    Jason Grey’s murder at the Glendale Cemetery is believed to be gang related, but he still has people who are concerned with his well being. He likely had “family,” “relationship partners.”

    Who cares how “tired” you are of “hearing” about gangland murders? I, for one, do not. It is a disservice to the community that our local paper cares so little for its constituents that it won’t humanize the victims of all murders, even the victims who lived criminally.

    Comment by Christian Johnson (babcd1) — 1/3/2008 @ 12:55 pm

  7. This is interesting: The Wire this season is going to focus on the demise of a big city newspaper–albeit from a probably leftist perspective. Will blogs be the bogeyman?

    Comment by Patricia (f56a97) — 1/3/2008 @ 12:59 pm

  8. ada, if you wanna come over to my place some time and be my front window, I think you’d be great at it; you’re so easy to see thru. My eyes, my eyes!

    Comment by ras (fc54bb) — 1/3/2008 @ 2:15 pm

  9. I didn’t understand this post until I saw the phrase ‘Paris Hilton’. What’s she gotten up to now?

    That crazy kid. I just can’t hear enough about her!

    Comment by Kevin (4890ef) — 1/3/2008 @ 2:45 pm

  10. From the perspective of the suits at LAT, the names of victims only matter if they live in the WestSide, Hancock Park, the Hollywood/Malibu Hills, and the “better” parts of the Valley (below Ventura, of course).
    You can’t expect them to actually care about the poor, dispossessed, and dis-advantaged living in their midst, now can you?
    Even if the victim was a domestic for them, it wouldn’t rate mentioning their name, only the fact that someone died.
    What a fantastic collection of Humanists (and I wonder about you too, ada).

    Comment by Another Drew (8018ee) — 1/5/2008 @ 11:36 am

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