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Times partners with USC journalism students on Homicide Report

January 27, 2010 |  3:37 pm

The Los Angeles Times and USC's Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism today announced a collaboration to produce stories for The Times'  Homicide Report blog.

Under the partnership, students from USC will write dispatches for the Homicide Report. Among the goals is to provide more content for the blog and to offer crime-reporting experience to student journalists from Neon Tommy, the publication of Annenberg Digital News.

This partnership coincides with the re-launch this week of the Homicide Report, which now features a searchable database and an interactive map of the more than 2,600 killings in L.A. County in the last three years.

“Since the first days of the Homicide Report in 2007, our goal has been to tell two stories about violent death in Los Angeles – the overall statistical portrayal of who dies, how they are killed and where, as well as the individual portraits of the human beings behind those numbers,” said David Lauter, assistant managing editor at The Times. “Collaborating with USC will allow us to tell far more of those human stories and, at the same time, help develop the next generation of L.A. journalists.”

Annenberg Digital News director Marc Cooper called the move “an important step in redefining the future of journalism. “

“A partnership between the largest newspaper and the largest journalism school in Los Angeles can only produce good things. And the homicide blog is one of them,” he said. “ It's important for us at Annenberg that the capacity of our students to produce professional work be recognized and we thank The Times for the opportunity.”

Alan Mittelstaedt, Annenberg Digital News’ managing editor, will be working closely with Times editors on the student dispatches.

"Our reporters are hungry for real-world experiences, and this collaboration gives them a chance to put their best work on a crucial topic before a huge audience," he said. “The days when students' best work lands on a professor's desk and stays there are over."

-- Megan Garvey

The following in an excerpt from the inaugural post from first year graduate student Andrew Khouri:

Charles Montgomery was born in the back room of his grandparents’ house on the 400 block of E. 104th St. in the Green Meadows neighborhood of South Los Angeles.

Twenty-four years later he died on that very street, a few houses down, shot on his way home from the store in the early afternoon, his family said. He was on an errand for his grandfather, Willie L. Byas.

"It happened right out there, on the street," Byas said as he looked out the window toward the location where his grandson was killed. "I heard the noise and everything."

"I am really hurting.... I’ll never forget him," he said.

Montgomery, a 24-year-old black man, was shot several times in his upper body about 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, by a man who approached him on foot, police said. Montgomery died at the scene. Police believe the killing was most likely gang-related due to recent gang-related incidents in the area, said Det. Sal LaBarbera of the LAPD’s Criminal Gang Homicide Unit.

Montgomery was not a known gang member, LaBarbera said. Police said they have no suspects and no witnesses have come forward.

"It was broad daylight — it just don’t get more blatant," said Kali Kellup, Montgomery's cousin. "Somebody saw something."

Read more: Dispatch: 'It was broad daylight — it just don’t get more blatant'