November 27, 2012

Texas community journalism center hopes justice stories spur local papers

This release came in recently from the Texas Center for Community Journalism. Might give ideas for those in other states as well:

The Texas Center for Community Journalism has made two new investigative series available free of charge to Texas newspapers and their websites.

             Both series are written by Kathy Cruz, reporter for the Hood County News in Granbury and consultant in investigative reporting for TCCJ.  Both series are underwritten by the Hood County News and the Center.

            One series, Justice for All, investigates the fairness of the Texas criminal justice system, especially in cases that deal with indigent defense.  Stories in that series examine the quality of legal services in Texas and the impact of the justice system on those who are accused of crimes, as well as the impact on their families.  The other series, Routier Revisited:  Was Darlie Unjustly Convicted?, looks at one of the state’s most celebrated murder convictions, which sent a Rockwall mother of three to death row following a conviction for killing two of her children.  The case spawned TV documentaries and books, and now has many observers questioning the police investigation and the trial.

            Both series have been uploaded, along with art and logos, for use by community journalists in Texas.  The Justice for All series is available at
.  The Darlie Routier series is available at

            Tommy Thomason, director of the Center, said he hopes Texas newspapers will go beyond just printing the Justice for All series especially.

            “We want newspapers to look this series over and get ideas for their own investigations,” he said.  “We hope papers will run their own stories on the quality of the justice system in their coverage area and send them to us.  We will upload those stories alongside the ones Kathy Cruz has written.”

            Jerry Tidwell, publisher of the Hood County News, said the projects are important for Texas community journalism.

“Community newspapers typically do not have the staff and the resources to take in-depth looks at statewide issues,” Tidwell said. “This is a way to help them and, in the process, provide a service to the people of Texas.”

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