Introduction: Best practices for journalists reporting on community gun violence

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 and to explore the hypothesis that changing the way this issue is presented can actually reduce violence, prevent shootings and save lives.

Here we will present a concise seven-step guide for approaching the topic based on what we learned during our inaugural Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit last fall at WHYY in Philadelphia.

We have been reviewing everything we learned from the gathering, including transcripts and audio recordings, reporting notes on audience questions and answers, news media coverage, social media feedback, preliminary research findings and follow-up surveys.

Participating experts included journalists who cover gun violence locally and nationally, community representatives with deep firsthand experience, frontline clinicians and researchers from fields including communications, criminology, epidemiology and public health.

Journalists attended from The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, as well as from Chicago, Orlando and Boston, including representatives from The Associated Press, Newsy, SB Nation and newsrooms in smaller cities such as Allentown and Flint. Staffers from most of Philadelphia’s leading news organizations were also present.

The event also attracted educators, students, advocates, first responders, doctors, nurses, medical students, policy makers and other public officials. Nearly 250 people attended.

After releasing the guide, we will turn to implementation, assessment and refinement. So, we want to hear from you!

Please let us know what you thing by clicking Contact link on our home page menu or you can take part in the conversation using our #IBGVR hashtag on Twitter.

The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting was founded by Jim MacMillan, a journalism educator and a Pulitzer Prize-winning former photojournalist, during his fellowship at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri.

MacMillan is presently organizing the new Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting at Community College of Philadelphia and the new Credible Messenger Reporting Project, which will recruit and train community members to produce stories from their neighborhoods about the experience of living with gun violence, as well as identifying its root causes and potential solutions.