by Lindsay Beyerstein
How our blog got its name
Sidney Hillman was a powerful national figure during the Great Depression, a key supporter of the New Deal, and a close ally of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
When the rumor spread that President Roosevelt ordered his party leaders to “clear it with Sidney” before announcing Harry S. Truman as his 1944 running mate, conservative critics turned on the phrase, trumpeting it as proof that the president was under the thumb of “Big Labor.”
Over the years, the phrase lost its sting and became a testament to Hillman's influence.
It's hard to imagine a labor leader wielding that kind clout today, but we like the idea—and we hope Sidney would give thumbs up to our blog.
Save Homicide Watch
Homicide Watch is a young journalism startup that reports on every single murder in Washington, DC. No other media outlet comes close. Murder victims in DC are disproportionately black and poor, and their stories are underrepresented in mainstream media coverage. Homicide Watch provides an invaluable service to members of beleaguered communities.
Shirky describes the site's innovative design:
Homicide Watch matters because they are more than just thorough, they’re innovative. They’ve designed the site like a set of feeds and a wiki rather than like the crime section of a newspaper. The home page shows the most recent updates on all pending cases. Each victim gets their own page, where those updates are aggregated. Every murder is mapped. Every page has the tip line for the detective assigned to the case. Every page hosts a place for remembrance of the victim.
This way of working isn’t just technologically innovative, it’s socially innovative, in a way journalism desperately needs. The home page of Homicide Watch shows photos of the most recent seven victims; as I write this, all seven, are, as usual, African-American. Like a lot of white people, I knew, vaguely, that crime was worse in black neighborhoods than in white ones, but actually seeing the faces, too often of kids not much older than my own, makes it clear how disproportionately this crime is visited on African-Americans.
Homicide Watch has received national recognition for its journalism and its innovative design. The site's co-founder and sole full-time reporter, Laura Amico, has received a prestiguous Niemann Fellowship at Harvard. Homicide Watch needs to raise enough money to hire a reporter to replace her during her yearlong stint at Harvard.
The most dedicated users of Homicide Watch can't afford to pay for it. So, Laura and Chris Amico are reaching out to those who care about socially conscious journalism to help keep the site alive.
As of Wednesday morning, the Homicide Watch Kickstarter had over $20,000 in pledges, putting the campaign a little over halfway towards its goal of $40,000 with 8 days left in the campaign. Remember, they only collect those pledge dollars if they meet the $40,000 threshold. So, keep those pledges coming.