Thursday, January 31, 2008

New reporting challenge - finding the real story inside Cleveland's homicide numbers

I love my job, but at times it can get repetitive .. so I've been trying to broaden my horizons and push myself to bring my reporting to a different level.

Today .. my first web-exclusive story is on-line .. looking at the real reasons behind Cleveland's monster year for homicides.

In early January, national news organizations began looking at crime rates across the country for 2007 .. and Cleveland kept getting nailed for its 134 homicides. One article listed Cleveland as number two in the nation behind "Kill"adelphia for being killed. Even the PD's article pointed to the homicide basics -- crime, crime, drugs, crime -- as the factors for the rising rate.

Yet, nowhere could I find what these homicides looked and felt like .. and what the data really showed.

So I requested the demographic and crime info on all 134 homicides. It took several hours to input all of the data into a computer spreadsheet, but I got it done in a few days and began to analyze it.
Turns out, drugs weren't the number one factor (at least statistically) for these deaths. In fact, only 18 of the 134 were listed as "drug-related."

I also looked at the "solved" rate and found that nearly 60 percent of Cleveland's homicides had indeed been solved ... that's more than 10 points higher than the national average ... something the national media outlets weren't mentioning. (FYI: Akron detectives also had a good year when it came to solving homicides ... making arrests in 21 of 23 murders in 2007). Certainly, Cleveland's small homicide unit was working their butts off but not getting the proper credit.

Anyway .. I pushed hard to look beyond the numbers for ground-level stories .. and pushed my bosses at WKYC to let me take my analysis to the web .. and they agreed. So take a look if you like ... browse the data .. see what strikes you .. and give me some feedback.

1 comment:

Laura said...

I think this is great information...It's great to see that there's someone who cares enough to show the data and the solve rates vs. crime rates.

I'll be looking forward to future web-exclusives from you!