Homicide Watch DC Founder Receives Harvard Fellowship

Laura Amico, whose website tracks DC homicides, is looking to create an online guide for crime reporters.

By: Harry Jaffe

Photograph by Douglas Sonders.

Laura Amico, who founded the website Homicide Watch DC with her husband, Chris, in September 2010, is heading to Cambridge for a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard. She won one of the first two fellowships awarded by Harvard and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

"I proposed building an online guide for crime reporters," Amico says. "Tips, tricks, tools as a guide to working with police departments, judges, and attorneys."

Amico, 30, was profiled in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian. Her website chronicles murder in DC, from the initial crime through the legal process. With photos of victims and their stories, Amico brought to life the tragic stories of the dead. Family members and friends flocked to Homicide Watch to honor victims and share their grief--and anger.

In the past month, Amico says the site drew record page views of 20,000 page views a day. She and Chris broke new ground in using social media to report and write.

"I hope to explore best practices in tweeting from trials," she says, "finding witnesses to the crimes on Facebook and using graphics to cover crimes."

Whither Homicide Watch?

"We are talking to a couple of potential partners," she says. "We are focusing on universities. The students who have volunteered for us have been terrific. It would be a great fit for a journalism program."