Friday, July 15, 2011

USAT | In a new analysis, paper finds 'U.S. border cities prove havens from Mexico's drug violence'

[From slideshow: a view of U.S.-Mexico border fence]

The picture painted of America's southwestern border with Mexico is a bloody one, in which the drug violence decimating northern Mexico has spilled onto U.S. soil and turned the region into a war zone.

But a new and well done USA Today data analysis published this morning found violent crime rates along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years -- even before the U.S. security buildup that has included thousands of law enforcement officers and expansion of a massive fence along the border.

"U.S. border cities were statistically safer on average than other cities in their states," write correspondents Alan Gomez, Jack Gillum, and Kevin Johnson. "Those border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average, which itself has been falling."

The paper's analysis drew on more than a decade of detailed crime data reported by more than 1,600 local law enforcement agencies in four states, federal crime statistics and interviews along the border from California to Texas.

Stories like this one, based on reams of data, risk being overrun by dry numbers, when reporters and editors try to make the most of all the information they've unearthed. But today's account does an excellent job of weaving just enough statistics through the text to give the report credibility, without losing readers' interest.

Today's package includes an interactive map that compares crime rates near the border with state crime rates. There's also a gallery of photos by H. Darr Beiser, showing life along the border. Plus, a video.

Earlier: In another recommended story, USAT reveals housing carnage on Helens Pouroff Ave.

Know about Gannett work -- in or out of editorial -- worth spotlighting? Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write jimhopkins[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the rail, upper right.

[Image: today's front page, Newseum]


  1. Jim, so glad you posted this. It shows that you're not biased against this company.

  2. Nice to see some investigative journalism still goes on. And it's even a "passion topic."

  3. Craig Sevier7/15/2011 4:29 PM

    And yet, despite the positive reaction such bona fide content roundly deserves, Gannett's street cred remains a bad joke.


    Because this level of actual journalism represents more of a Gannett aberration than the norm from, say, even 10 years ago.

    Still, the piece is like a sip of cool water in the middle of what has become journalism's Mojave Desert.

  4. Great stuff. Congratulations USAT.

  5. The paper actually does well in several coverage areas. TV and music in Life, football and Nascar in Sports, perfi, autos and executive comp in Money. News just needs to get its act together, starting with Page 1.

  6. If you think about it, we are all being sold someone else's agenda, and I am tired of it.

  7. 6:57 - not new, either.

    Little thing called the Spanish-American War ring a bell? Hearst & Pulitzer covered that specifically to sell papers in New York. 'You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war"

  8. And now Gillum's moved on to the AP.


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