Homicide Watch D.C., the ambitious local website that aims to cover every D.C. homicide, announced this morning that it will shutdown on January 1, Poynter first reported. Husband and wife duo Laura Amico and Chris Amico founded the site in September 2010 while they were living in D.C.
But they moved to Boston two years ago when Laura Amico received a fellowship. Since then, they’ve been operating the news site from afar with some help from interns on the ground in D.C.
“While Homicide Watch D.C.has continued as a high-quality local news site, thanks in large part to our crew of very talented interns, the reality is that local news should be directed by people who live in the community,” Laura Amico wrote in a post to readers on the site Wednesday morning. “Without any local owners, we have decided that it is no longer feasible to continue publishing,”
Any murder that occurs in D.C. after Dec. 31 will not be included in Homicide Watch’s extensive database, though they will regularly check the statuses of cases that remain open.
They hope someone or some organization eventually wants to take it over and the site can be revived. The closure, however, isn’t all that unexpected.
In 2012, the Amico’s launched a Kickstarter campaign after they moved to Boston to keep the site afloat for a year. The Kickstarter campaign got a big boost after New York Times media reporter—-and ex-Washington City Paper editor—- David Carr wrote about Homicide Watch D.C.’s financial woes, pushing the campaign past its $40,000 goal. Once that money lapsed, they were able to sustain the site a while longer from the money they got from licensing out its software and template to other news organizations.
In July, Poynter reported that the future of Homicide Watch was uncertain because Laura Amico accepted a position as an editor at the Boston Globe and the couple was looking for someone in D.C. to take over the site.
Here’s the full letter to its readers posted on the Homicide Watch website:
After covering every homicide in the District for more than four years, Homicide Watch D.C.will close January 1, 2015.
Chris and I launched Homicide Watch D.C. in September 2010 when we were residents. I ran the site, mostly out of D.C. Superior Court, for more than two years while I lived in D.C.For another two years, Chris and I have run the site from Boston.
While Homicide Watch has continued as a high-quality local news site, thanks in large part to our crew of very talented interns, the reality is that local news should be directed by people who live in the community. Without any local owners, we have decided that it is no longer feasible to continue publishing.
This means that homicides that are committed after December 31 will not be covered on Homicide Watch D.C. We won’t add new arrests to the database. We will regularly check the case status of cases that remain open at the end of this year, and we will update the database with relevant dismissals, acquittals, guilty pleas and convictions. We will also continue to moderate comments.
In a few weeks we will begin publishing our final Year in Review series. It will, as always, be full of feature stories, guest columns, and a data-driven look back on 2014. But after December 31 we will not have reporters at the courthouse and we will no longer be covering hearings or trials.
We hope that the closure will not be permanent, that a local news organization, university, non-profit, or other group — maybe you — might want to bring the site back.
“We hope so, because the value of Homicide Watch is the same as it was in 2010. Because the value of Homicide Watch D.C.is the same as Homicide Watch Chicago, Trenton, Boston. Because I know — from your comments, your letters, your courtroom conversations, and your support of the launch of our apprenticeship program two years ago — that this is a community that cares.
It has been an honor and a privilege to share in your caring.
Murder photo by Shutterstock