3. Recognize the complexity of the topic

Complicate the narrative!

Complexity makes people more curious. Try to make people think, rather than telling them what to think.

Balance the need to inform your audience with the goal of minimizing traumatic content. Avoiding sensationalized, shallow, repetitive, episodic reporting is crucial. These reports can spread fear and perpetuate stereotypes.

Recognize that living with complex social, behavioral, economic, and community circumstances can perpetuate violence.

Remember that good people make poor choices.

Facts add richness and hope, but staying current with trends and research takes effort. Know the difference between correlation and causation in research findings, and consider the author’s degree of confidence before endorsing a study.

Reject the idea that anything done to try and stop gun violence is beneficial. When reporting on a response to the problem, consider if the reporting might risk doing more harm than good or if it might create other unintended consequences.

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 third 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

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.

Above: The final Summit session was titled: Widening the Lens on Gun Violence Reporting in Philadelphia: Perspectives from the Medical, Public Health, and Research Communities. (Listen.)