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What is the purpose of crime reporting?

I asked on Twitter how journalists cover crime, and how it should change as police blotters go online. The resulting conversation brought out all sorts of aspects of the relationship between police, reporters, and the public.


  1. Several of the first responses pointed out that police department data is often horribly hard to find and use. 
  2. A number of folks also highlighted the importance of "trend" stories, as opposed to individual reports.

  3. Which I agree with wholeheartedly, but much crime reporting is about single events.
  4. Jeremy is referring to Narrative Sciences, a company that produces sports stories (and other types) from data. The LA Times also has an automated alert system. Clearly, technology can help here.
  5. (Ben's robot is the LA Times automated system, written by Ben Welsh)
  6. Of course, machine generated stories are not necessarily the most interesting... but it's interesting if it's your neighborhood!