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.