America’s Best Newspaper Writing: Crime and Courts

By Stuart Jones

Cathy Frye’s story of Caught in the Web: Evil at the Dooris an incredible example of strong investigative reporting combined

Lady Gonzalez sheds a tear while giving an account of an officer fondling her during a raid at her Kensington home in December 2007. Her case is being investigated. (Sarah J. Glover/staff photographer)

with well-structured story telling that put the reader in each moment of the story. Another example of this kind of crime writing is by Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman, Pulitzer Prize winners for writing 3rd woman tells of raid assault, which ran in the Philadelphia Daily News. Their writing was just as fast paced as Frye’s. They immediately got into the fear and climax of the crime that took place and automatically puts the audience past the edge of their seat. Detail is another piece that Laker and Ruderman shared with Frye’s piece. They have very descriptive details of the woman that was assaulted and took persistence and respect to gain.

Linnet Myers reminds the public of the necessity of reporters as “watchdogs.” Myers has been able to write in a way that walks the reader through the scene of the courtroom as if

Sheri Fink, Pulitzer Prize Winner.

you were watching it on television. She brings in valuable detail, but also puts the reader’s awareness in the important places around the room that allows them to be in that place. The Deadly Choices at Memorial by Sheri Fink of ProPublica is a good example of how impactful it can be when a writer pulls their audience in immediately with a strong description of the setting pulling on all senses. Her work went from a makeshift hospital to the courtroom where the defendant could be heard screaming she was in the right with her decision. The ability of these writers to bring a seemingly mundane courtroom to life is a powerful trait to possess. Read Fink’s full story at

Anne Hull’s writing takes police reporting to a new level. She goes under the surface of standard writing and looks at the relationship between the police and a project dweller. Her work exhibits very strong investigative reporting, once again, that makes the details of the story that much more valuable. The 30-Year Secret written by Nigel Jaquiss is another example of getting right into the meat of the story and then recovering the background a few graphs in. It’s valuable to see how looking past the regular official police reporting can bring a whole new world. Jaquiss won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for investigative reporting.


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