Good Examples of Crime and Court Reporting


Caught in the Web: Evil at the Door from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Frye starts this piece with a lead detailing the most suspenseful part of the story, the kidnapping. It is a lead that grabs the attention of readers as well as giving them a glimpse of what the rest of the story will be about.

One of the interesting things Frye does is spend time describing life of the father of the kidnapping victim. It draws an interesting parallel to the story because Kacie’s father is a police officer, on duty at the time of her kidnapping.

Frye tells most of the story chronologically, using a web chat session that Kacie was having at the time with a friend. To avoid confusion, Frye gives some background as to what instant-messaging is and explains some of the dialogue. Frye tells a story with key details, even writing the time events happened as well as the temperature outside. If it contributes to the story-telling, she uses it, and it makes for a great complete picture of a crime situation.

Humanity on Trial from the Chicago Tribune

Myers story is unique. Rather than focusing on a sole court case, Myers’ story details the strained court system of the Cook County Circuit Court. The strength of this story is the way Myers plays with scope.

She starts off by explaining the larger picture of the court system, and then narrows it down to specific cases and incidents that highlight the desperate situation. Myers gives the example that rape cases are sentenced as hard as drug cases, to show that the strained courts have to often make the tough choice to deviate from the goal of bringing justice.

She also highlights where the courts fall short by giving out the unofficial “rules” of court. Her story ends asking the compelling question of why the system is the way it is.

Metal to Bone, Day 1: Click from the St. Petersburg Times

“Police reporting rarely goes beyond the official version of events.”

That is how America’s Best Newspaper Writing described this work by Anne Hull, going well beyond the official version of events to give a comprehensive story on a police officer who was shot at one night on duty. Hull begins her story by explaining thoroughly the people involved in the incident.

She starts by describing Lisa Bishop, the officer who was shot at one night. Her story details the life of William Merrell, a man who saved Bishop’s life. Through his life story, Hull is able to describe the public-housing life where the shooting took place. The story ends about to find the suspect of who shot at Bishop. It leaves the readers ready to read the second part of the story.

Here are some other good examples of crime and court reporting.

Napster can play on, but threat looms from CNet News

Man executed on disproved forensics from the Chicago Tribune

Meth’s legacy: burns, ruined lives from Rocky Mountain News

The Use of Force from the San Francisco Chronicle


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