New reward — “Get our Homicide Data!” a smart idea hits the real world on Kickstarter

Crime-Scene-Tape3NOTE: I don’t know exactly what happened but this post was up and was kicked down along with the rest of my site. The Homicide KickStarter project was successfully funded Sept. 13 by 1,110 backers who pledged $47,450 total. As it turns the founders didn’t get any bites from newsrooms that wanted to buy their  homicide data crunching services, but the following items did sell. 

Pledge $500 ore more.
4 Backers Limited (6 of 10 left)

Lunch with Homicide Watch founding editor and 2013 Nieman-Berkman fellow Laura Amico at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Pledge $1,000 or more

 1 Backer Limited (29 of 30 left)

Year in Review Sponsor. You get a preview of our 2012 Year in Review, plus a skype chat with the reporters putting it together, plus a sponsorship message, link and image on the splash page. This sponsorship won’t expire. You’ll also receive the entire collection of Year in Review stories packaged as a ebook.

Pledge $5,000 or more

 1 Backer Limited (4 of 5 left)

The Homicide Watch team will guest teach a class or lecture for an audience of your choice.

Looks like some folks with money see value in what Homicide Watch can teach them about being innovative in journalism.
Read my Huffington Post column on Homicide Watch.

 A One Year Student Reporting Lab within Homicide Watch DC by Homicide Watch » New Reward: Get Our Data! — Kickstarter.

This provokes some questions. The big resistance by government to opening data back when I was in government was that data was a potential revenue source for government. Of course, they were not necessarily thinking of crime data in this way, but other types of data was considered to be very valuable and government was making big money by selling it. Now here’s a new groups selling it, so how is that different?  so

Back in June, we published a six-month review of homicides in 2012: Decreases in Gun, Domestic Violence, at Forefront of 6-month Homicide Decline.

The story, which included a map and summation of half a year’s stats, took us about four hours to complete. We never had to file a FOIA. We just asked questions and our database started pouring out answers.

  • How many murders have happened this year, compared to this time last year?
  • Who were the youngest and oldest victims?
  • How many cases have at least one suspect under arrest?
  • What is the racial and gender makeup of victims (and suspects)?
  • Where did most homicides happen?

These are questions every news organization should be able to answer. We collect this information as part of our reporting process and store it in our custom-built database. Now you can use the same data.

For every victim and suspect, we collect a name, age, race and gender. For victims, we also record a date of death, homicide method (shooting, stabbing, etc), place of death (hospital or at the scene) and incident location. For suspects, we record arrest dates and case status.

If you work for a news organization, think about how long it would take to gather all of this information.

We’ll export the data at your request, so you can ask in September (when this campaign ends) or in January (if you want two calendar years) or any time later.


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As dots connect, whole is emerging for future of news

Chicago Journalism Townhall
Chicago Journalism Townhall (Photo credit: sally garden)

As dots connect, whole is emerging for future of news

The online dots are quickly connecting. Gov2.0 entrepreneurs are building a strong backbone for a hyperlocal new stream. And much of it is happening here in Chicago.

Continue reading As dots connect, whole is emerging for future of news

Election day Chicago style

We have great weather here in Chicago – how lucky and how wonderful!

I voted at around 10:25 a.m. [47th ward, 26th precinct] One of the judges told me about 315 people had voted so far today. What a wonderful experience to be out and around this lovely neighborhood. When I was walking up Damen to get my coffee — a fellow Ravenswoodian was standing on the porch of his house waving to everyone who walked by — “I am going to stand out here all day today and say hello to all my neighbors.”

My friendly coffee barista at the Perfect Cup was wearing an Obama tatoo. “It feels just like Christmas,” she said.

As I headed to my polling place, I was struck by the lack of signs and welcomers on the streets, which sprouted up on corners in the old Chicago traditions. I was wondering whether I had missed something and the city was putting an end to that practice OR whether it might somehow reflect how much of the Obama campaign was run through the web OR whether the people arming the corners just were not out in force as a kind of protest against Hillary not winning the nomination. I have been hearing a lot of that again in the past few days.

A Hispanic man wearing an odd hat standing behind me said,” I’ll give you $10,000 to vote for McCain.” When I laughed at what he said, certain he was joking, he said. “I’ll make it $20,000.” He was making a serious offer, I think. Rather odd. When I left the polling place a neighbor of mine waved hello and said, “have a great day!” We chatted for a few minutes. It really does feel like a new day. Then heading back home  I passed a huddle of 4 old-timers who had just come from voting. They were talking in whispers, and then it felt less like a new day.

My dad, reporting from the 40th ward, 47th precinct, said that it took a long time to vote but only because the ballot was so long. He voted at my first and long-time polling place at St. Ignatius Church. When I was a kid, I loved going to the polls with my parents. It was quite a party atmosphere— almost as good as bowling — with everyone smoking and drinking coffee and eating coffee cake and chatting for hours. For us kids, it was like a prelude to the holidays because we got to run around like banshees in the green room and outside. Nobody paid any attention to us and it was wonderful.

My sister, reporting from the 49th Ward, 26th precinct, said it took her nearly two hours to vote early this morning at 6 a.m. She said the lines were long and slow moving.