The inaugural Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit focused on media coverage of community gun violence and took place at WHYY in Philadelphia on November 8, 2019. This enhanced agenda includes session summaries and presenter biographies as well as audio recording from all of the panels. More resources are linked at the bottom of this page. View tweets from the summit using hashtag:#BGVR2019

Agenda | Audio | Experts | Hashtag | Notes | Photos | Press | Recap

This event was made possible with support from The Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, WHYY, The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, The Dart Center For Journalism and Trauma, Action Tank and AH Datalytics.

Welcome & Introductions

At the top of the program, host Errin Haines introduced us to representatives from the organizations that made this day possible to discuss why they were supporting the Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit. Please join us:

Errin Haines, National Writer, Race & Ethnicity, Associated Press; Ferris Professor of Journalism, Princeton University

An award-winning journalist focused on the intersection of race, politics and culture, including civil and voting rights, the black electorate, and the emerging modern protest movement, she has previously worked at The Washington Post, The Orlando Sentinel and The Los Angeles Times.

Jim MacMillan is a fellow with the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri and founder of the Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting. He previously spent 17 years with the Philadelphia Daily News and photographed the war in Iraq for the Associated Press, earning a Pulitzer Prize and The Bayeaux Prize for War Correspondents. He has taught journalism at Missouri, NYU, Swarthmore College and Temple and Tufts Universities.

Sandra Clark is vice president for news and civic dialogue at WHYY. She is a member of the executive leadership team, manages all news operations, leads digital transformation and audience diversification initiatives and is a vocal advocate for diversity, inclusion and equity. Clark was previously managing editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Under her leadership, the Inquirer was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 2014.

Jim Friedlich was appointed Executive Director and CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism in 2016. Friedlich served previously as CEO of Empirical Media Advisors, a consulting firm focused on the digital transformation of major news organizations. He previously managed the global advertising sales, consumer marketing and business development of a large and diverse group of The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones & Company newspapers, magazines, web sites, cable TV channels and conferences.

Covering Gun Violence: How We’re Trying to Do It Better
(Organized by The Trace)

The Trace’s nonprofit journalism has spurred bipartisan legislative proposals, law enforcement reforms, congressional inquiries, and new academic research. In 2018, The Trace received General Excellence honors in the micro newsroom category of the Online Journalism Awards. Its more than 75 national and local media partners include The New Yorker, Slate, The Atlantic, NBC News, BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Politico.

Jonathan Bullington is an investigative reporter with the Courier Journal in Louisville. He had previously been a reporter with the Chicago Tribune and the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Bullington’s work has focused on issues of criminal justice, from a family whose chance at justice for their murdered loved one was washed away in Katrina to how stolen firearms fuel street violence.

Abené Clayton is a reporter with The Guardian, based in Oakland. She graduated from the Berkeley Graduate school of journalism in May 2019, where she produced two news magazine-length videos focused on disparities among Bay Area kidney patients and crime survivors in Richmond, California. Clayton is currently a part of The Guardian newspaper’s “Guns & Lies” series, and specializes in covering community-based gun violence and California’s criminal legal system.

Nadege Green covers social justice issues for WLRN in Miami. Her work was received numerous awards, including a 2017 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award (Planning Funerals For Children Lost To Gun Violence), 2016 first place investigative reporting award from the National Association of Black Journalists and Florida AP Broadcaster awards. In 2018 Green was recognized by the Miami Foundation with the Ruth Shack Leadership award for her body of work that gives voice to communities that are often not heard. Green’s reporting has appeared in the Miami Herald, NPR and PRI.

Akoto Ofori-Atta is the Managing Editor for The Trace in New York. She is responsible for managing partnerships, outreach, special projects, editorial operations and the fellowship program. Ofori-Atta directed “Since Parkland” The Trace’s groundbreaking student journalism project, which deployed 200+ teen reporters to write 1,200 portraits of young gun violence victims. Previously, she held the position of Associate Editor and Social Media Manager at The Root and as a Senior Editor at Essence Magazine. Before coming to the The Trace, she completed a John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University. Akoto is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists.

Moderator: James Burnett is the founding Editorial Director and Managing Director of The Trace. In his two decades as a reporter, editor, and newsroom leader, James has also served as Story Editor at The New Republic; as News Editor at New York Magazine, where he won a National Magazine Award for Special Issue; and as the chief editor of Boston Magazine.

Gun Licensing, ERPO Laws & Violence Prevention: Public Health Researchers Explain
(Organized by Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research)

This session provided an overview of the Center’s research and policy work, specifically its efforts around gun licensing. It delved into the research and implementation of the Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs), a leading initiative that enables those on the front lines to ask a court to prevent a person who is at risk of violence against themselves or others from purchasing or possessing firearms. Webster and Frattaroli discussed how these issues are covered in the news, and how they could be better understood by the public.

Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, is the inaugural Bloomberg Professor of American Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he directs the Center for Gun Policy and Research and serves as co-lead of the Violence Prevention Workgroup of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. Webster is one of the nation’s leading experts on the prevention of gun violence and has published over 120 articles in scientific journals on topics including gun policy, violence prevention, youth violence, intimate partner violence, suicide, and substance abuse. He is the lead editor and a contributor to Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). Webster’s research has informed policies to reduce gun violence at the local, state, and federal level. He previously led Baltimore’s Homicide Review Commission and now leads the Johns Hopkins-Baltimore Collaborative for Violence Reduction. His awards include the American Public Health Association’s David Rall Award for science-based advocacy (2015), Baltimore City’s Health Equity Leadership Award (2016), Pioneer Award from the Injury Free Coalition for Kids (2017), and Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Alumni Award (2017).

Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH, is an associate professor of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she serves as core faculty with the Center for Gun Policy and Research. Frattaroli teaches courses in Public Health Policy Formulation, Implementation Research and Practice, and Qualitative Research Methods. Her research focuses on policy and advocacy strategies designed to prevent injury and violence – particularly firearm-related domestic violence, with particular attention to how interventions are implemented once in place. Frattaroli is committed to efforts that advance the translation of research findings into policy and practice. Toward that end she is involved in the educational efforts and scholarship about Gun Violence Restraining Order laws that provide a process for temporarily dispossessing people of their firearms when they are exhibiting dangerous behaviors.

Reporting with Authority: Knowing the Research, Knowing the Vocab
(Organized by Guns & America)

Reporting on community gun violence is difficult. Guns & America, a public media reporting project covering the role of guns in American life, will present some of the empirical research they rely on to report deeper, more contextual stories.

Jeremy Bernfeld is the Lead Editor for Guns & America and Director of Collaborative Reporting at WAMU in Washington. Before moving to D.C., Bernfeld was the editor of Harvest Public Media, a public media collaboration reporting from the Midwest on our food system. Prior to that, he worked at WBUR in Boston.

Lisa Dunn is the Research Editor for Guns & America in Washington. Previously, Dunn was a long-time producer for the The Diane Rehm Show. Over the years, she produced multiple shows on the topic of guns, including special programming in the wake of the Sandy Hook, Navy Yard and Orlando mass shootings. Dunn holds an M.B.A., Virginia Commonwealth University; and a B.A., American Studies, George Washington University.

Dunn posted additional resources on the Guns and America web site: Further Reading: Community Gun Violence-Related Research And Reports

Alana Wise is Reporting Fellow at WAMU in Washington. She joined Guns & America after three years at Reuters, where she covered the 2016 presidential election, airlines and security, and the food and restaurant sector. Wise is an Atlanta native and a 2015 graduate of Howard University with a degree in political science and journalism.

Demo: New Tool Makes Philadelphia Gun Violence Data More Accessible
(Organized by AH Datalytics, The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, and The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting)

The Philadelphia Shooting Victims Dashboard displays information from Open Data Philly in a fully interactive interface. The dashboard was built by AH Datalytics LLC, a data analytics consulting firm based in New Orleans. The Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and The Initiative of Better Gun Violence Reporting have been collaborating on this project and will continue working to make gun violence data more accessible. We hope our reporting colleagues find this resource helpful and we never forget that each and every entry represents a real person.

Jim MacMillan is the director of The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting and a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

Go to: The Philadelphia Shooting Victims Dashboard

What One Community Wants Journalists to Understand about Gun Violence

Journalists are faced with the difficult task of reporting on gun violence in a manner that serves the public good but does not compound the trauma of victims. Debates about how to strike this delicate balance take place continually in newsrooms and journalism classrooms. Yet, too often the direct input of those most affected by gun violence are not included in these discussions. In this session, Dr. Midberry presented findings from a focus group study that explores how victims of gun violence in Philadelphia perceive local media coverage of the issue and how they think such reporting can be improved.

Jennifer Midberry, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of journalism at The Media School at Indiana University. Her research focuses on ethical issues related to photographing vulnerable people, empathic and other affective responses to photojournalism of social issues, and visual stereotypes, with an emphasis on depictions of Islam and the Middle East in U.S. media. She currently teaches Visual Communication and Photojournalism courses. Previous to her academic career, she worked as a photojournalist and photo editor at organizations such as the Philadelphia Daily News, Associated Press, AOL News, and ABC News.

Coming Together: Local Journalists and Mothers of the Fallen
(Organized by WHYY)

Mothers in Charge is a Philadelphia-based violence prevention, education and intervention organization made up mostly of women who have lost loved ones to violence. Three prominent local journalists addressed questions gathered from these moms in a conversation intended to bring the communities closer together and improve coverage of the issue.

Mensah M. Dean is a reporter on the Justice & Injustice Team at The Philadelphia Inquirer, focusing on corruption and wrongdoing in the public and private sectors and shining a light on perpetrators and victims. From 2009 through 2014, Dean reported exclusively on criminal justice as the Daily News’ courthouse reporter. In 2017 he received the $10,000 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence from the Morgan State University School of Global Journalism & Communication. In November 2019, Dean was named print journalist of the year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.

Cherri Gregg is the Community Affairs reporter for KYW Newsradio where she reports on a variety of grassroots social justice issues and events on KYW Radio, CBS3-TV and Cherri is executive producer and host of Flashpoint, a public affairs show that airs on KYW 1060AM. She is the creator of KYW Newsradio’s annual GameChangers in Black History Month, a 10 day series that highlights individuals who are making a significant, positive impact on communities of color in the region. She was named Philadelphia Association of Black Journalist Broadcast/Online Journalist of the Year in 2019.

Renée McDonald is a member of Mothers in Charge. She lost two nephews to gun violence.

Michelle Kerr-Spry is a member of Mothers in Charge. Her son was shot to death in Philadelphia.

Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris is a journalist, radio personality, organizer and professional drummer currently serving as the Community Contributor and Engagement Editor at WHYY. In the past, Norris has contributed to the opinion pages of The Philadelphia Inquirer, served as on-air contributor to WDAS-FM and is the former host of Wake Up With WURD, a poplar local talk radio morning show.

Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Ph.D, MHS, LPC is the Founder and National Executive Director of Mothers In Charge and a clarion voice to end senseless acts of violent crime. The Open Society Foundation named her to the 2015 class of Soros Justice Fellows. Following the tragic murder of her son Khaaliq Jabbar Johnson in 2001, Dorothy and other grieving mothers founded the non-profit grassroots organization with a mission of violence prevention through education.

Widening the Lens: Perspectives from the Medical, Public Health & Research Communities
(Organized by The Coalition of Trauma Centers for Firearm Injury Prevention)

As part of this panel, we heard from health care providers treating gun injured patients as well as public health practitioners and researchers working to unpack the root causes of gun violence and identify evidence-based solutions to this important public health problem in Philadelphia. On the front lines of gun violence every day, they presented their unique perspectives and work in the areas of gun violence epidemiology and prevention.

Sara F. Jacoby, PhD, MPH, MSN was a trauma nurse in Philadelphia and is now an Assistant Professor of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research is focused on identifying why injuries occur where they do in urban spaces, the experiences of injured people as they recover in their homes and communities, and ways to innovate health systems and to support urban environments to create safety and improve trauma outcomes.

Elinore J. Kaufman, MD is a fellow in Surgical Critical Care and Trauma Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. She is originally from New York City, and after graduating from Harvard Medical School she returned to New York to complete her general surgery residency at Weill Cornell Medical Center. She is a health services and health policy researcher with a focus on preventing gun violence and reducing its’ impact on individuals and communities.

Caterina Roman, PhD is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Temple University. She completed her PhD in Sociology, Justice, Law, and Society from American University. Her research is mainly focused on evaluating community-based crime reduction programs and assessing new methodologies to understand neighborhood and individual-level risk factors for crime, delinquency, street victimization and gang membership. She is currently working on a US Department of Justice-funded study to examine how victims of street crime interact with formal and informal institutions after being injured.

Raynard Washington, PhD, MPH is Chief Epidemiologist for the City of Philadelphia, Department of Public Health. In this role, Dr. Washington is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data that provides actionable information on the health status of Philadelphia residents. Dr. Washington coordinates and provides guidance to epidemiologic activities across department divisions and works internally and externally to enhance and establish health surveillance systems. He also leads the development of the Community Health Assessment and Community Health Improvement Plan. Dr. Washington earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pittsburgh.


Jessica H. Beard, MD, MPH is Assistant Professor of Surgery at Temple University. She received her medical degree from Yale and a Masters in Public Health from UC-Berkeley. She trained in general surgery at UC-San Francisco and completed a Surgical Critical Care and trauma fellowship at University of Pennsylvania. She is a passionate about firearm injury advocacy, research, and prevention and is the co-founder of the Coalition of Trauma Centers for Firearm Injury Prevention.

More Photos

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Reporting notes

Online | Printable PDF

Summit recap

IBGVR Philadelphia operations coordinator Alison Burdo made this presentation at Klein News Innovation Camp at Temple University in November 2019, one week after #BGVR2019: the inaugural Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit on community gun violence at WHYY in Philadelphia. Go to:

Media coverage

What if changing the way journalists report on gun violence could prevent shootings and save lives?

The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting has been created to inform a new set of best practices for journalists reporting on gun violence and to explore the hypothesis that changing the way this issue is covered could prevent shooting incidents and save lives.

And we have good reason to believe this work will make a difference.

Here’s what you can do: