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Journalistic Analysis: Crime and Courts


Mental Evalutation Ordered for Mom Accused of Killing Girls
Washington Post
Keith L. Alexander

This piece expands upon the trial of a women held in a D.C. jail and accused of the murders of her four daughters. This article informs that a mental evaluation has been order in the process of the trial after her attorneys reported that she has refused to discuss an insanity plea with them. While the piece is written fairly straight forwardly in order to just inform and keep the audience updated, but some of the quotations and descriptors used draw insight into the case and add dimension to the case. The piece also centrally explores questions on city protection of children and looks into the whys of the crime in a relatively short article.
The piece juxtaposes the attorneys push for her to take an insanity with her reluctance to, using descriptors of her rolling her eyes when it was suggested. The quote used was equally compelling. “He’s trying to push the insanity plea,” Jacks said. “I’d rather plead not guilty. Period. Straight out.” The second part in particular gives off an edge of stubbornness with the short, one word sentences and finality of the words, giving the reading insight into the convicted woman.

Bullet Felt like a ‘Sledgehammer’
Washington Post
Christopher Davenport

This piece details the shooting of an Alexandria police officer during a “routine” traffic stop. The writer uses descriptive language and a chronological direct telling of the event in storytelling style, making it more compelling and easier to read. It also played heavily on the human aspect by focusing on the shot officer and speaking to him and his family. A lot of the event was told through his words. The story also took a secondary focus on the police force, with focus on the bulletproof vests and the closing quote with the officer saying “I can’t wait to return to work.” This takes the story beyond the dry informing on a crime.
The story opens abruptly with “The bullet hit him in the chest, right over his heart, and it felt like being belted “with a sledgehammer.” This is a very affecting, intriguing lead, rather than a clear cut who, what, when, where, why. This is a very vivid description as well. The description the driver is similarly intriguing. I also really liked that the sentence structure itself was interesting, with the one word questions set off by commas. The technicalities of the writing made the piece itself a lot more interesting that just a textbook retelling of the information.

DNA Technology Moves Forward
Washington Post
Matt Zapotosky

This article is focused on the development of new Touch DNA technology, which uses skin cells shed on objects to match DNA, and the way it’s propelled crime investigation. The author creates a narrow focus point of interest by using a specific case to describe the new technology, a twelve years unsolved rape case. It also focuses on the proponent of the new technology at the Maryland State Police, Shelly Progovitz, threading her through the story as a citizen taking action to better the system, providing another human aspect for the reader to latch onto.
The technical structure of this piece is also very interesting; the other threads single sentence paragraphs into the piece on occasion, which provide a larger impact in the middle of all of the large blocks of storytelling and information.
The author also interweaves numerical fact, such as the cost of the technology, with the anecdotal sections, providing balance.

Humboldt Park Man Shot to Death Outside His Home
Chicago Tribune
Carlos Sadovi

This article reports the murder of Gregory Jones outside of his home on Saturday. The piece opens up to reader interest, starting with a clear image of the man lying “dying in the street” and telling his fiancé that he knew the people who shot him. The article informs early on that Jones died before telling his fiancé the name of the person who did it, but this opening provides initial interest in the case. By opening this way, the reader gets invested in the victim and the victims family and therefore are more likely to care about the details of the case.
This article also does a good job of balancing numerical statistics with the human aspect. The story interweaves this specific crime with a crime trend of homicide rates in Chicago on the rise and uses statistics, but does a good job of making sure the statistics mean something to the reader.

Many Stark Contrasts as Simpson is Convicted
New York Times
Steve Friess

This piece reports on the O.J. Simpson trial in recent weeks, specifically focusing on the contrasts between the trial now and the trial over 14 years ago. The writer uses imagery of fans outside of the courthouse in comparison to the mostly empty press tents to provide a more vivid impact. The article focuses on both the lack of public interest and the change in demeanor and confidence level in Simpson.

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