Home Who's Reisner? Journalism Florida International University Other Stuff
Database & Public Records Reporting/JOU3121 | News Workshop/JOU 3113



Crime Statistics

In this exercise, we'll start putting together what we've learned.


Working with FBI crime statistics, we'll see how we can tweak meaningful trends out of what at first appear to be just a mass of undifferentiated numbers. We'll learn about "If/Then" statements, rates and ranking.


Go through the exercise and think about what you see. Then write the first few  paragraphs of a story for the Miami Herald.


When you extract specific information of interest to a particular audience

it's called "localizing" the story. The lede provides the information of most interest to the audience; the second or third paragraphs explain where that news fits in an overall context.


So, in this case the lede would focus on Miami and/or Fort Lauderdale, the two metropolitan areas in the data that are part of The Herald's circulation area. The next paragraphs would provide some context, perhaps the other high-crime areas in Florida area and what the other top crime areas are in the country.


Finally, jot down how you would report out the story. Who would you call and what specific sorts of questions might you ask. Would you call public officials? Experts? Would folks you run into at the mall would make good sources here? What are they going to say that's informative other than, "Yikes!"


Make your questions specific. Each source you call will have different concerns and different expertise. "What do you think of the crime rates?" is not a specific question. "To what do you attribute the high crime rate?" is.


For more on what I want here, take a look at the story memo example in the "Class Documents" section of the the site.


Crime: crime.xls

Annual FBI crime statistics for major metropolitan areas.

Crime Exercise: crime.pdf

Step-by-step guide.




Home | Who's Reisner? | Journalism | Florida International University | Other Stuff