Crime Reporting is a field of journalism that helps you wash off some of the colours from your life-viewing lenses, to let you see clearer. Crime Reporting lets you inch closest towards some of the most gruesome and often baffling actions of humans. You understand the capacity of a human mind and the things it can think of and do.
“Better a good journalist than a poor assassin.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre
Many crime reporters around the globe have reached stardom because of the accounts of their sensational crimes, for example, the Bofors scandal that broke in 1987, reported by Chitra Subramaniam-Duella and N. Ram for The Hindu.
If you think crime reporting is a field you should go for because you love binge watching Law and Order and Criminal MInds, you might want to take a halt and read on some of the insider knowledge of the field:
1. You are Not the Hero of the Story!
Well, we are the hero of our own stories, but when it comes to reporting on an ongoing criminal case you are not. Who might it be then, you wonder? Cops, for obvious reasons. The books and movies have sensationalized reporters and freelance intellectuals to the main crime solver, but that is not how the world works.
As a crime reporter, you have to run back and forth to the police station to know if they have got any new findings. You also have to report everything to the state police. The benefit of this situation is once there is confidence and trust developed between you and the police, he/she might call you in the first place when there is a breaking news story!
2. Heightened Capacity of Gorse
Crime journalism is far for being a rose-coloured glass view! Often you may find yourself walking down the dark gory dungeon of a crime at hand, only to sort it out with your bare hands, to make it presentable and factual for the masses. You might also find yourself at the scene of a violent crime with signs of what had occurred still there or victims in not so intact condition still being transported away by ambulances. You might also have to interview the perpetrator of a crime who shows no remorse after having interviewed the perpetrated who could barely speak.
Our goal is not to scare you but to give you a glimpse of what actually happens.
3. Knowing How To Say The Truth
Truth should not be simply blurted out, it is only wise to handle it very carefully. It is not advised to show all the graphic of the events that have taken publicly. There has to be sensitivity and sensibility to know what to include in your report and what to not.
One has to be mindful of the victim and the victim's family’s feelings, privacy and culture.
The names are withheld from the public in cases involving minors or rape victims. Once you have built up some trusted confidential informants it is up to you to keep their confidentiality.
4. Balance Subjectivity and Objectivity
The most important thing for a crime journalist is to not make any inferences and worse make them publicly. You would have learned this while working on-field over a case, the more objective you are, the straighter the facts you will get.
Even Though a crime reporter is not a tabloid writer, you can’t be a robot who only speaks facts and nothing else. Be a storyteller, wrap the facts in a continuous narrative, add just the amount of emotions needed to make your report easy to consume by the people.
Having said that you are to stay away from swindling into wild fantasies.
5. The Best of Both Worlds
Crimes do not happen during office hours, and criminals do not take a lunch break. You might get a call any time of the day (or night) from a scene of the crime. If you are passionate about this, it would be more of an excitement and thrill rather than a tedious disturbance.
Being needed on-field does not save you from desk work, you will be required to write, edit and do paperwork a huge deal.
These points are only meant to enlighten you with insider facts. If you think you have a clear thought out reason and purpose for being in the field of crime reporting than get started with a postgraduate Journalism degree. To know more on what is crime reporting in journalism reach NIMCJ out at 76000 68443 or visit at www.nimcj.org.
NIMCJ is a mass communication and journalism institute in Ahmedabad, India that proffers aspirants with experienced alumni and up-to-date pedagogy.
15 Apr 2019
Post by : NIMCJ