Cops and The Media: A Chilly Peace

Police-media relations may have bottomed out following a series a controversial police-involved deaths beginning last August, when Michael Brown was killed by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Mo. Journalists covering the resulting unrest were harassed, bullied and arrested by police. “Unfortunately, what I saw in Ferguson was a total disregard for the First Amendment rights of journalists,” says Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). Osterreicher, a Buffalo attorney and former photojournalist, was dispatched to Ferguson by the board of his 7,000-member organization after what he calls the “catch-and-release” arrests of journalists there. Some 50 media organizations joined the NPPA in decrying police obstruction of the media.

Crime Reporting Case Study: Online Investigation Scripps Howard “Murder Mysteries”

Scripps Howard News Service (SHNS), based in Washington, D.C., which serves 14 daily newspapers and nine television stations owned by its media chain, decided to take a fresh look at murder in America, particularly the growing percentage of killings that go unsolved and the possibility that law enforcement authorities are overlooking serial killers. The result was a powerful series of stories that appeared on its website between May 23 and November 26, 2010. Led by reporter Thomas Hargrove, Scripps Howard built a database of 525,000 homicides around the U.S. over the 29 years between 1980 and 2008. Working with the database, Hargrove was able to pinpoint previously unacknowledged serial murder cases around the U.S. Hargrove explained how he did it, and how other journalists can use the data, to Ted Gest, president of Criminal Justice Journalists and contributing editor of The Crime Report. Read the full case study HERE.

Covering Medicare Fraud:”The New Cocaine Cowboys”

“We have to be out there as the protectors, exposing problems, fixing things, and improving lives. It's not enough to cover, we have to uncover?and hold the powerful accountable.” –Adrienne Roark, former news director, WFOR-CBS4 Miami In 2009, CBS “60 Minutes” partnered with WFOR-CBS4, the CBS-owned & operated television station in Miami, for a joint investigation of Medicare fraud, which federal authorities claim costs U.S. taxpayers $60 billion a year. The first report, the result of five months of research by WFOR-CBS4 reporter Stephen Stock was aired on October 26, 2009. A “60 Minutes” segment, which was based in part on Stock's research, aired one day earlier on October 25, 2009.

Crime Reporting Case Study: Memphis Commercial Appeal

In a series called “True Crime,” published between September 27 and December 18, 2009, the paper sought to depict the truth about crime in their city through an innovative mapping project. Read the case study. Click here and the document will download to your desktop. Learn how to create your own crime database. Click here and the document will download to your desktop.

Media Crime Coverage in the United States 2008

In 2008, there was no dominant event in crime and justice for the news media to cover, according to a report prepared by Criminal Justice Journalists on Media Crime Coverage in the United States. Due to the lack of a sensational case, such as O.J. Simpson or Laci Petersen, blanketing news coverage, the study explores some of the major crime and justice issues that made the news in 2008 and assess how well or poorly the news media covered them. Access a copy of the study here.

Mortgage Fraud: Charlotte Observer Case Study

Crime Reporting Case Study: Mortgage Fraud Deborah Potter, NewsLab “This was happening all over and everybody was in on the scheme.” –Patrick Scott, business editor, The Charlotte Observer For years, it seemed the sky was the limit for real estate in Charlotte, N.C. The second largest U.S. banking center after New York City was one of the nation's fastest growing areas in the early 2000s. But the boom in home sales was driven in part by subprime loans that resulted in a wave of foreclosures. In 2007, a year-long investigation by The Charlotte Observer found the surge in foreclosures “had as much to do with the builder as it did the borrower,” said business editor Patrick Scott. The builder was Atlanta-based Beazer Homes USA, at the time one of the ten largest home builders in the country.