America’s Best Newspaper Writing: Crime and Courts

Crime and court reporting is really heavy stuff, it’s highly important journalism. This type of work lets readers to look into the private and complex world of law, controversy and ethics. This kind of journalism educates the general public, advocates for social justice and what is right, and serves as a watchdog tool for governments and the judicial and prison systems.This chapter highlighted skillful work in the line of crime-writing, as you can see in the display of work that was showcased.

We start with Cathy Frye’s piece, “Caught in the web: Evil at the door,” which depends on a timeline to explain the concrete facts of what exactly happened to Kacie Woody. Frye immediately places the readers in the scene with her telling lead- “He could see his 13-Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 9.04.37 AM.pngyear-old prey framed in the living room windows-cozy in her favorite nightclothes and typing speedily at the family computer on this rainy, 39-degree December night..” By literally dropping the readers into different settings throughout the story, Frye allows them to become fully immersed in the story and see how things play out for Woody. A unique aspect about this story that I love was how Frye provided very specific text from the chats so that readers could know exactly how they talked, how they treated one another and what they spoke about.

Linnet Myers’s piece, “Humanity on Trial,”shows how Myers has lots of experience concerning reporting on crime and the courts. She has the two most common ways of doing this: an “episodic cycle” and the big picture. Her piece illustrates a court scene for readers before delving into an in-depth study of the seemingly commonplace murders happening throughout Chicago. Myers uses detailed imagery to tell her story of a place closed off to the public. She carefully presents information about the criminal court procedure to readers by a means that is easy to digest. It is clear that Myers has done her research. Her piece has a selection of credible interviews as well as numerous facts and figures. She makes human a very cold and unknown process by adding new perspectives.

Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Leaky’s Pulitzer Prize-winning piece on exposing a police narcotics squad resulted in an FBI analysis and the review of a handful of cases assumed to be tainted by the scandal.  Their story, “The informer, the cop & the conspiracy: Snitch says narc lied to jail alleged drug dealers. Did he? ” circulates around Ventura Martinez and Officer Jeffrey Cujdik. It lays out how Martinez confessed to lying about evidence to numerous cases to gain illegal entry into homes and make arrests that were immoral. This article features what officials said and what went down in the courts. It carefully adheres to a timeline of occurrences from the three years, 2005-2008 that the case was associated with to show all the major events that happened.


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