August 14, 2014

Laura Amico shares lessons learned at Homicide Watch

A few weeks ago, the Boston Globe announced the hiring of Laura Amico to join the digital site as news editor for multimedia and data projects.

Laura Amico

Photo by Finbarr O’Reilly /

Amico has been the co-founding editor of the Homicide Watch along with her husband, Chris Amico, since 2010. In a farewell post published today in The Crime Report, Laura shares some of the lessons she learned as the co-founder of the data-driven project that focused on violent crimes.

In the post, she opens up about the challenges of keeping Homicide Watch true to its mission, focusing on people and not just data, and departing the project for the Boston Globe.

Below is an excerpt of the full piece, which you can read here at the Crime Report:

The motto of Homicide Watch is simple: Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.

The work, however, is hard.

It’s hard because that motto is a promise, in D.C., in Chicago, in Trenton, and Boston, that not a single violent death will be unacknowledged.

That not a single victim will be unremembered.

That not a single case will be unreported.

My husband, Chris, and I launched Homicide Watch in Washington D.C. in September 2010. I was an unemployed cops reporter from California. Chris was a programmer-journalist recently hired by PBS NewsHour. (Read more about our launch in this story in The Crime Report.)

I didn’t know what Homicide Watch was going to be, but I saw unanswered needs in my neighborhood: street shrines memorializing the dead, online obituaries being paid for in order to keep threads of memories together, Facebook groups built so families could update one another on what was happening in court cases.

I built Homicide Watch D.C. at the intersection of community memorial, criminal justice, and journalism to meet these needs. The response was instantaneous.

Five hundred page views in the first month. Then 5,000 another. Then 500,000 another.

It has been an honor for the past four years to do this work. As I prepare for my next challenge-- an editor position with the Boston Globe—I’ve gathered seven of my lessons learned from starting Homicide Watch to share.

Read the full piece here.