Telling Stories About Crime is Hard

Covering issues of crime and violence is very hard but that is no excuse for not doing it better. So says our guest this week on the Chicago Justice Show Jason Cherkis. Cherkis is seasoned reporter who started out working for weekly paper in Washington, DC covering these very issues.

Through be told reporters at daily papers and local TV stations have never really covered crime and violence responsibly. The pressure of daily deadlines forces them in to a position where they are forced to churn out content to feed the beast. Unfortunately, crime and violence stories are often very easy to create . This forces journalists to rely far too much on official sources for story idea generation and content.

Cherkis talks about how when he went back to review his stories from his days of covering crime and violence in the District he was dismayed at how little he centered the voices of the victims and offenders in his stories.

Cherkis talks about how he was in a different position than the daily reporters because he worked for a weekly publication so he was not burdened with the deadlines that most reporters working within the daily news cycle had to deal with. This allowed him to bring more depth to his reporting on crime and violence that you would not see in the daily churn simply because he had more time.

We also discuss the shift in the daily newspaper business to crime reporters where we used to have police reporters. The residents of Chicago have fallen victim to a new media that is obsessed with crime and violence and ignores their obligations to focus on the processes, policies, and practices of the justice agencies. This results in countless stories about crime and violence that have very little context in them but definitely generate clicks.

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

1 thought on “Telling Stories About Crime is Hard

  • To some extent, everyone makes excuses. When it comes to people making justifications about their unhealthy actions, it can be difficult to see through these excuses or recognize them for what they are.

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