A Legacy: In Cold Blood

April 1, 2009 at 11:33 pm (Reaction)

I’ve never read the Capote book, but I really can’t turn away from a good murder story. Even if the case has already been solved, there something about the mystery – or maybe it’s the psychology of it. In Cold Blood: A Legacy is a multimedia project, created in 2005, by a college class of in-depth reporting and its instructors.

I found the documentaries to be very intriguing. Like Cold Case, Forensic Files and the other investigative shows that come on Tru TV (formerly CourtTV), the five-part documentary combined present day retellings of what had happened by those who had been involved, and broadcasts that had taken place at the time of the actual murders. They combined the tale of the case, Truman Capote’s creation of a legacy, and the reaction of the townspeople to the finished product.

My favorite quote may have been from prosecutor attorney on the case, Duane West:
“Well, frankly, I didn’t really give a rat’s patooie what Capote thought of me in his book. Frankly, I don’t think it has any redeeming social value whatsoever. I think there are lots of events and peoples’ stories that are much more worthwhile telling than that.”

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I feel that this is an effective way of storytelling, because actual voices are used. Here, the archived footage is very effective combined with the present-day voices of those once involved narrating. In a way it tells two stories (a present narrative through the archives and a recollection, through the present-day interviews), which is also a great advantage to this method.

Additionally, it gave a great sense of how, despite the popularity of the book, the residents of the town, who’d lived through it, clearly just wanted the memory and the attention to go away (like the image of the newspaper headline: “Forget It. Holcomb Wants to Put Past Behind It”), while those uninvolved have no issues talking about the murders.

Words have a way of misconstruing the tones that some people use, and the video accesses those tones in a less time consuming way. Instead of simply focusing on the past, the group of students incorporated the present into the project, as well. They interviewed younger people and older people, who all had different takes on the history of their town and those involved. The impact on the town was as much a story as the murders and Truman Capote’s involvement in them.

While the documentaries, photos and slideshows were nice to look at gave some great perspective, but to be honest, the Lawrence Journal-World’s Web site found itself in a major fail. The layout was pretty nice, but with multiple stories running in four days worth of newspapers, there is a lot to read. Even if I didn’t want to read everything, the page was littered with excerpts, but none of the pages could be found at the Web site.

Let me repeat: None of the stories could be found on the Web site.

Luckily, there was a back up of the print copies on PDFs.

Actually, now that I think back on it, the original coverage of the stories was lost also.

For this, I give myself permission to take off points.


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