WASHINGTON – When Laura Amico was assigned the crime beat at her small California newspaper, she joked with her editor it was her dream job. Now, Amico and her husband Chris run one of the most well-executed and highly acclaimed news start-ups in the country entirely about homicide.
Homicide Watch D.C. started in 2010 when Amico moved to Washington, D.C., after her husband got a job at PBS NewsHour. She said her first month she had 500 visitors. It was small and she wasn’t sure what to expect. Over 2 1/2 years, the community response has exploded. She averages 10,000 hits a day, most of her traffic coming from search engines.
“I think this speaks to the ways that people in the community are trying to access and interact with information about these crimes is that they’re putting names and addresses into Google,” Amico said. “So they’re saying, ‘I know something happened on Fifth Street last night. Or I know something happened to this girl Selina who I went to high school with.’ And they’re putting that into Google and Google is sending them to Homicide Watch D.C. So that’s been really interesting to me.”
In her reporting, Amico found that the homicides reported by the traditional news outlets seemed to be focused on certain areas, and not representative of where the crimes were happening.
“I think it had to do with so many homicides in the past having to deal with the crack epidemic, and that really not being so much of a problem anymore,” Amico said.
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