The Scoop is an amazing Web site where Computer Assisted Reporting is documented and then sorted into categories by any means your geeky heart could desire.
Writers Jim Schoettler, Paul Pinkham and Steve Patterson researched the 364 homicides – whether criminal, accidental or justifiable – that occurred between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2006. That included learning the backgrounds of victims and killers.
Schoettler and Pinkham studied police investigative reports, prosecutors’ files and autopsy findings, then recorded the information in a computer database. They interviewed killers and cops, prosecutors and defense lawyers, judges and academics, crime witnesses and victims’ families.
With support from Duval County’s chief judge, homicide suspects’ confidential juvenile court files and pre-sentence reports were opened. Patterson coordinated and analyzed database records of each killing and collected other records. He also developed a database that tracked homicide suspects’ prior arrests and the outcomes of those cases.
I just finished a course on public records last semester, and it’s really cool to see what can be done with some patience and an affinity for numbers.
The feature is also a great example of how news stories should work online. From any one place in the story, you can move to any other place. Beautiful.