In 5 yrs. 557 families. A record high 148 lives in 2006.

Homicide and Oakland, in the Bay Area you can’t have a conversation about one without someone bringing the topic to the other, but maybe that’s a conversation worth having.

About a week ago the Oakland Tribune took another bold step into expanded storytelling and took something we all thought we knew about and informed us we don’t know anything.

Not Just a Number
is an interactive narrative ongoing social documentary that puts a face of the homicide stats often quoted in news articles, on TV airwaves and gangsta rap.

Sean Connelley and Katy Newton created the piece for the Trib and they’re far from done.

I’ve been waiting for this project to go live for a few weeks now (I’ve know of it for about a month now) and have spent the last week exploring it like a child.

The Oakland Tribune gets it right on almost every front and brings the bigger issue to the forefront, and promises to keep doing it as it expands on the presentation with new installments.

What’s really interesting is the way it invites the community to tell the story and become part of the narrative process: through blogs, interactive maps, guest books, community generated content and more, it truly becomes an experiment in community journalism that takes advantage of the new media landscape to weave it into a whole new form of journalism.

Living in the Bay Area, I’ve always read the stories about homicide rates escalating in Oakland and have been warned by many locals not to venture to certain spots at certain intervals of the big arms of the clock on the Tribune’s facade.

It does exactly what good journalism is supposed to do, it gives you the need to know and brings public awareness to a public issue that needs attention.