CSI: L.A. Times, Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer

A most welcome investigative trend.

Can the procedural help revive the relevance of print newspapers? It certainly seems so.

Chris Goffard’s recent six-part investigation for the Los Angeles Times, “Framed,” about an Orange County PTA mom entangled with the parents of a child she watched over after school, had people talking about the paper in glowing terms rarely recently heard. Now come two more similar efforts.

On Sunday, the Arizona Republic’s Michael Kiefer kicked off “Summer of Fear,” a five-part look at a pair of serial killers who terrorized Phoenix ten years ago. And, currently in progress at the Cincinnati Enquirer, an even more ambitious undertaking, “Accused,” an eight-part investigation (with podcast) into a 1978 Cincinnati murder.

The two reporters behind the Enquirer series, Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossmann, spent a year on the project. They explain their motives as follows in an accompanying series note:

There are a lot of investigations out there examining whether people were wrongly convicted of terrible crimes. This isn’t one of those. This is an investigation of the aftermath of an innocent verdict. How law enforcement — so sure that they had the right man despite two juries saying they didn’t – gave up looking for the person who strangled and stabbed Elizabeth Andes, a young woman in a college town.

Both the Republic and Enquirer are Gannett newspapers. These series continue the company’s stellar work on the investigative front. And there’s something about the narrative form and ruminating feel of these sorts of pieces that works well with newsprint and a cup of coffee. These kinds of investigations also, of course, feed the appetite of a public whetted by the podcast Serial, the Netflix series Making of a Murderer, this year’s FX series The People v. O.J. Simpson and more.

Enquirer reporters Hunt and Rossman appeared Wednesday night on HLN to discuss their series work with Michaela Pereira. Watch that conversation here.