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 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.

Revisit the presentations

Now you can find an enhanced agenda linked from our home page menu with session summaries, presenter biographies, audio recordings from every panel and more resources linked within. Visit:

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 the Summit. Go to:

Audio directory

Reporting notes

Online | Printable PDF

Media coverage

Professor Katherine Reed from the University of Missouri School of Journalism attended the summit and organized key takeaways for Nieman Reports:

Complete media coverage directory:

The day in pictures

View the complete photographic report at:


We received 198 advance orders for a total of 223 tickets after launching the event site during the ONA conference in September. Another 30 walk-ups checked in with our team at the event and we had about 20 unclaimed name tags at the end of the day, though about half of them belonged to people we saw in attendance. Our best assessment of this information leads us to estimate we had a total of 243 attendees at some point during the day.

Attendees checked in from The New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, as well as from Chicago, Orlando, Boston and more. Journalists also came from The Associated Press, Newsy and SB Nation, as well as from newsrooms in smaller cities such as Allentown and Flint.

Most of our attendees came from along the Northeast Corridor.

The largest cluster came from Philadelphia and surrounding cities and towns.

Special guests

The event also attracted researchers, educators, students, advocates, first responders, community representatives, policy makers, public officials and clinicians: About a dozen doctors, nurses and medical students from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University wore their white coats while attending all day.

A group of journalism students from Philadelphia’s George Washington Carver High School were in attendance.

Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Medical Services Crystal Yates attended. Officials were also present from the Philadelphia Police Department, Department of Public Health and Office of Violence Prevention. Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter also attended.

Attendee survey

We sent an email invitation to participate in this anonymous survey to everyone who registered. So far, we have received 66 responses and the reviews are good:

Did you learn something new and important that will inform your work?

Yes: 66 (100%)

Would you be likely to attend our events in the future?

Yes: 64 (97%)

Please rate your overall experience at the summit on a scale of 1-10:

Average response: 9.2

Please rate the overall quality of information delivered during the summit:

Average response: 8.9

Attendee comments

“The level of presentation and credentials of the speakers made this a credible, very high quality event. I am thinking about the education I received, and how to speak to others about gun violence prevention in a more effective, confident, and compassionate way.”

“Thank you so much for putting this event together. it is one of the most meaningful events I have been to in a long time (and I go to a LOT of conferences) and was so thoughtfully organized.”

“It’s rare that you see multiple Black women on multiple panels. The world needs more of that. We exist!”

“I enjoyed the summit tremendously. It helped to open my eyes to the care and compassion journalists use when covering violence and other negative stories. I learned a lot. Thanks.”

“It was great. I loved that questions were submitted on index cards and managed by the moderators. The time was wisely used, as a result of that.”

“Thank you! This was so necessary and important. Really, really happy to have attended.”

“This was a really cool event, and I’m glad I got to attend. In fact, I wonder if it was TOO efficient? I could see this easily become longer than one day.”

We didn’t specifically ask about the venue and catering but respondents let us know they were pleased:

“Thank you for providing a wonderful breakfast and lunch. As much as that might not seem like a big deal, it really does set the tone and make a difference.”

“It was a great summit overall. Regarding the amenity and facility aspects: the breaks we’re about the right length, breakfast, snacks and lunch were all excellent, and the staff was very courteous and helpful.”

“I thought the structure and logistical aspects of the conference were excellent. Having the tables in front of us was especially helpful.”

“The venue was incredible, loved the WHYY facility. Very impressed by the catering.”

“I thought the WHYY facility was excellent for the event.

Digital engagement

The event produced 898 original tweets throughout the day using our hashtag: #BGVR2019

Our web site traffic more than doubled following the event.

Early outcomes

Resources for those impacted by gun violence:

One panel included members of Mothers in Charge, a Philadelphia-based organization made up mostly of women bereaved by gun violence. They talked about how difficult it had been to find resources after losing their loved ones and local media organizations responded.

The staff at Billy Penn compiled a list of resources and both they and parent organization WHYY now include them with reports on gun violence.

Local media collaborative Resolve Philadelphia developed and shared an interactive version of the list, including a form to submit additional resources:

The resource list is also now linked within gun violence reports from NBC10 Philadelphia:

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner were among many who took notice.

Here’s a detailed summary of the events that led to the new service, by IBGVR director and RJI fellow Jim MacMillan:

This recap was also redistributed in journalism newsletters including those from RJI, API, ONA, INN, America’s Newspapers and the Democracy Fund.

The Philadelphia Shooting Victims Dashboard

User feedback following the summit has led to several updates to the Philadelphia Shooting Victims Dashboard, which was introduced during the event. CBS3 Philadelphia cited the resource in a recent report:

Visit live: The Philadelphia Shooting Victims Dashboard

What’s next?

In 2020, we will be working to:

  • Introduce a preliminary set of best practices for journalists covering gun violence, based on what we have learned so far, along with related resources.
  • Conduct a six-month survey of attendees to better assess the impact of the Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit.
  • Begin the work of transforming the Initiative into an enduring National Center for Gun Violence Reporting, through strategic planning, rebranding and development.


  • Keep up with our latest developments at:
  • Check the new footer below to connect on social media.

Our first accolades

As the summit concluded, IBGVR founder Jim MacMillan was presented with this challenge coin from members of Action Tank, the volunteer community of socially-responsible US military veterans who provided staffing for our event. We are grateful for this honor and would like to dedicate it to everyone working to advance better gun violence reporting.

Jim MacMillan was also honored with a 2019 DIY Philadelphia News Award at the Pen & Pencil Club, which this year granted members “the power to create your own award categories and bestow them on deserving folks.”

Technically Media founder and CEO Christopher Wink credited Jim for leveraging his decades of experience to start a new movement and presented this sparkly sneaker ornament as a keepsake. The Pen & Pencil Club is one of the oldest surviving press clubs in the country, founded in 1892. Thank you Chris!

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:

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