How New Orleans Reporter Turned Homicide Case Into A Series


The story behind the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s week-long narrative series about a homicide was told to the Columbia Journalism Review by reporter Brendan McCarthy. The last part of the acclaimed series was published Sunday. McCarthy said the New Orleans Police Department “said that their solved crime statistics were improving and they wanted us to do a story.: The newspaper’s response: “You have to let me show people how you do it. If we tell it and just give them a couple of numbers, it won't have as much impact.”

McCarthy said officials paired me up with two young detectives for three days with this handshake agreement: I would get to watch them work a case. “This took a bit of cajoling [] and the detectives were very wary of me at first,” McCarthy said. When they were assigned to investigate a homicide: “They worked this case for 40 hours straight, and shortly after I called my boss and I said we got a lot of stories here. In this 40-hour span with the detectives, there was so many details, and dialogue and action. There was a point where just they were detectives and I wasn't in the back seat anymore. I filled twelve notebooks with stuff.”


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