Crime Blotter a ‘Dying Art,’ Times Declares. Who are They Kidding?

What the heck are those detectives up to? Have no fear, the blotter will let you know

Newspapers are shrinking. There’s really no disputing that.

But is the crime blotter fading with them?

The New York Times followed around a reporter with The Brooklyn Paper as he did his daily look-see in the police reports. They called the exercise a “practice a dying art in New York City journalism.”

Maybe in the Big Apple. But I tend to doubt that claim elsewhere. One need only Google “police blotter” to find hundreds of entries of news organizations devoted to this stuff.

One point of disclosure: I am one of those dinosaurs the NYT talks about that goes to the cop shop most days in search of newsworthy reports. I am not writing this because I’m offended by the prospect of a waning blotter section.

That said, I get a front row seat each day to witness their popularity, especially on our web site. They bring in droves of readers. And, somewhat offensively to we reporters, a little regurgitation from a police report often trumps — in reader page views — a long-researched, labored-over article that we put our heart and soul into.

Quite contrary to the New York Times’ story, if and when newspapers and media organizations recover from this recession, police blotter will likely be front and center more than it ever has been before.

6 thoughts on “Crime Blotter a ‘Dying Art,’ Times Declares. Who are They Kidding?

  1. Exhibit A in why I think you’re right:

    To turn an analogy around: if the police blotter can make it in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, it can make it anywhere. Helps to have items like this…

    “Suspicious Person / Activity – A processor called 911 to report he was not getting as much work as he wanted at his plant. His company would not purchase him a ticket home and he felt this qualified as kidnapping. He was advised to contact management in the morning.”

  2. I remember reading one of those Alaska 911 reports where a confused woman claimed to be a victim of theft and that the perpetrator was either her ex-husband or Eddie Vetter.

    The report when on to say that Mr. Vetter had 25,000 alibi witnesses who saw him at a stadium in Phoenix, AZ at the time of the incident.

  3. The disappearance of the Crime Blotter is just another example of local papers not reporting the local news. What we get is mostly national news and advertising.

    I bet if the Sun’s Editor conducted a REAL unbiased poll of the current and former subscribers, they would tell you what they want to see in their paper: LOCAL NEWS.

    Give us a “Police Blotter”, one with ALL of the Law Enforcement and Emergency calls,
    A listing of all of the burglary, car thefts, and other crimes that occur.
    Tell me about the police activity down on Callow or about the gunshots heard.

    Tell me why I was stuck in traffic for so long, tell me why the lights were out in South Kitsap/North Shore yesterday (2-25-09) for over 8 hours.

    I find it odd that the SUN delivers papers out there, but does not report anything that goes on. I often find more local news in the Tacoma News Tribune that in our “Local” paper, the SUN.

    I once asked a Sun reporter why we don’t see the above items in our paper and was told “off the record” that “Bad News” (the news that affects us the most) does not sell advertising, therefore Editors choose not to run those stories.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like to read “Good” news, entertainment and the occasional “Special” article, but I buy a news paper to read the news… I need to know what is going on around me.

    It’s no wonder papers are failing… I used to subscribe but found that there was so little local news that I only read the paper once or twice a week just because it was there. Sure there are articles about a Port Project Manager or a Park going “Natural”, but is that to be considered news when there is real news to report? Most people I know that are former subscribers quit the paper for the same reasons that I did. Lack of substance that meant something to the masses and too much advertising (page two, three, etc.) where the news should be.

    Perhaps if the SUN got back to reporting local news, the paper would be of value to more people, they would sell more subscriptions and have less reliance on advertising for expenses.

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