7. Watch your language

Inaccurate terminology can dilute reader confidence in your reporting.

Adjectives including “gritty” or “urban” can be perceived as racist code words.

Consider the implications of suggesting someone was “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Recognize that “police-involved shooting” is sterile official terminology.

To avoid polarization, don’t say “gun control” when you mean “gun violence prevention.”

Some terms may also perpetuate stereotypes. “Extreme risk protection orders” can seem wordier than “red flag laws, but using the latter term can inadvertently assign responsibility to people with mental illness.

If you’re covering gun violence, learn about guns.

The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting was created to inform a set of best practices specifically intended for journalists reporting on community gun violence. This is the final post in a series introducing our seven-step guide, based on what we learned during our inaugural Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit.

Previous posts in this series:

1. Earn your place in the community

2. Remember who and what is important

3. Recognize the complexity of the topic

4. Disrupt misconceptions

5. Don’t cover; engage!

6. Report with intention

The complete guide will reside here: Reporting on community gun violence? Here’s what to do

You can learn about the panelists and listen to every session online for free. Visit: The Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit

The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting was organized by Jim MacMillan is his role as a fellow with the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.