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Progress report: 08.21.19

It's been two months and 1,000 miles since our launch, and the Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting is striding towards its ambitious goals: reforming news coverage of gun violence by critically examining existing reporting methods through the lens of potential impact and developing a set of evidence-based, community-informed best practices.

Here's what's happened since our last newsletter:

A complicated void:

Memorial for El Paso shooting victims. Photo via Wikipedia.
Over a roughly 13-hour span beginning in the late morning on Aug. 3, more than 30 people were killed and more than 40 were injured in two separate mass shooting incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. As members of the press covered the tragedies unfolding in two U.S. cities, they had some evidence-backed and expert-supported resources to serve as a guide in their reporting.

The recommendations of criminologists, media researchers and mental health experts include: not reporting names of mass shooters nor publish their photos; do not glorify the shooter nor the violence; avoid speculation about mental health; and avoid the use of superlatives, among other industry-endorsed guidelines.

Sadly, the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton were just two of more than 250 distinct gun crime incidents that occurred over Aug. 3 and 4. In addition to the victims of the two mass shootings, another 112 were killed and 227 injured by guns in that 48-hour period, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The GVA says the gun violence took place in 42 different states, in large cities like New York and in small towns like Osmond, Wyo. That means local journalists throughout the country are tasked with reporting on gun violence, some on a daily basis, yet there are no official guidelines nor industry-consensus on best practices for covering community gun violence.

- Alison Burdo, IBGVR

Gun violence in the news: Conversations between journalists and the community in Philadelphia

Next month we will host a gathering created to bring together members of the community impacted by gun violence with journalists who play some role in coverage of the issue in Philadelphia. Conversations are intended to get to know each other better and create opportunities to ask questions and share ideas for how gun violence coverage could best serve the community, and to make lasting connections for future engagement. The primary objective is to inform a new set of best practices for those covering gun violence.

This event is organized by The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting, in partnership with Mothers in Charge, Resolve Philadlephia and the Coalition of Trauma Centers for Firearm Injury Prevention. Funding has been provided by the City of Philadelphia Office of Violence Prevention.

Team update:

Founder Jim MacMillan relocated to Columbia, Mo. to formally begin his fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri. The veteran multimedia journalist will spend the 2019-2020 academic year focused on advancing The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting. The team on campus includes four Convergence Journalism Capstone students:
From left: Madi Lawson, Rashi Shrivastava, Michelle Hu and Taty Presley will produce a report on the state of gun violence reporting in the US. We will meet another collaborating Missouri student next month.

Alison Burdo, a Philadelphia-based journalist, is serving as newsletter editor and Philadelphia operations coordinator. She brings to the team a pragmatic voice informed by her 6+ years of experience reporting for mid-sized and large media outlets in multiple markets.

Bringing this idea to life:

The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting was recently accepted for membership at CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia, a management commons and shared services provider. Soon, we will be ready to accept tax-deductible contributions.

A look back:

Last month, the team from The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting took part in Germantown Behind the Headlines: Covering Gun Violence.
Jim MacMillan kicked off the community engagement event, hosted by the Germantown Info Hub, by introducing the Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting. A following exercise challenged attendees to evaluate a hypothetical situation a journalist could find themselves in and brainstorm ways to improve reporting practices. Click here for a full recap: Community Discussion on Gun Violence and Media Coverage in Germantown

Hold the date: November 8

Soon we will announce featured speakers, key participants and other collaborators for the inaugural Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit, scheduled for November 8 at WHYY. To stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter.
Join us in Philly! Photo via Wikipedia

Here's what you can do!

Would you or your organization like to play an active role in our upcoming summit?

Would you like to present a lightning-talk, propose an un-conference session, lead a table talk or panel discussion or maybe even organize a segment of the program?

Please drop us a line whenever you have questions or suggestions, or if you would like to get more involved.

Thank you, The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting

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