Homicide Watch expanding to Chicago in partnership with Sun-Times

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The Sun-Times is teaming up with D.C.-based Homicide Watch to provide "deeper reporting on the city's rampant murder problem." Before January ends, the newspaper announced Thursday, it will launch homicides.suntimes.com, a "pairing of Homicide Watch technology and Sun-Times reporting resources [that] will mean that every victim's story is told with a depth of focus that follows the Homicide Watch promise: Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case."

I wrote about Homicide Watch last September, when it was a highly praised but furiously paddling two-person operation trying to raise $40,000 on Kickstarter so it could stay in business. Homicide Watch offers "a new kind of crime journalism that is database driven," explained Laura Amico, who founded and runs Homicide Watch with her husband, Chris Amico. "It allows coverage to be both granular and cumulative." Even then, the Amicos wanted to expand beyond the Washington, D.C., city limits; they were fielding inquiries from other cities—though Chicago wasn't one of them.

"We'd love to be in Chicago," Laura Amico told me. "What we need is a local partner there, a newsroom or a university or some other group to be the daily beat reporter on the ground. We know a lot of people in Chicago, but no one who has the ability to make these sorts of decisions and write checks."

The Kickstarter campaign brought in $47,000, and as it wound down the Sun-Times called. Laura Amico tells me she and her husband have signed their "standard licensing agreement" with the Sun-Times. "We are providing the software, training, and support and the Sun-Times is running the site. They'll be staffing it and making the daily decisions."

There are far more murders in Chicago than in Washington, D.C. Would it take a newsroom to track them all? Laura Amico said last year that three people could do it, and she still thinks so—though the Sun-Times says it will assign a few more reporters and interns than that to maintaining its new site. As of Wednesday, there had been 15 homicides in Chicago so far in 2013. On Friday, Homicide Watch reported the first homicide of the year in D.C.

Chicago is the first major city the Amicos have expanded into. They've also partnered with the newspaper in Trenton, New Jersy.

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