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Special announcement: Credible messenger journalists will examine gun violence from community perspectives

The Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting 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.

The Credible Messenger Journalism Project will pair these community reporters with journalists in traditional news organizations to help craft the stories according to professional practices and to distribute the reports through mainstream and social media channels.

“This project will give us as chance to practice everything we’ve learned from the community through our research and events over the past year,” said project director Jim MacMillan. “Philadelphia residents have told us they want more balanced coverage, more community voices and more empathy from journalists, as well as more context around the problem and more reports on efforts being made to stop the violence.”

Community reporters will be recruited this fall from the Philadelphia neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence and will receive equitable compensation. They will leverage their lived experiences to inform the stories they tell, offering insights too seldom seen in traditional reporting and they will shine a light on survivors, activists, and others working to make neighborhoods safer.

Participants will work together to disrupt traditional news values that frame gun violence primarily as a criminal justice issue instead of addressing it from public health perspectives and focusing on prevention.

Every step will be community-informed, trauma-informed, data-informed, collaborative and attentive to the relationship between reporting and outcomes.

This pilot project has been made possible with support from the Independence Public Media Foundation.

“The Credible Messenger Journalism Project is aligned with our goal to support community storytelling efforts that promote social change,” said Nuala Cabral, Program Officer for the Independence Public Media Foundation. “We are hopeful that various stakeholders across Philly will learn from this reporting, feel seen and heard and be inspired to take action.”

Jim MacMillan leads The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting (IBGVR) and has been organizing the new Center for Gun Violence Reporting, which will launch this fall at Community College of Philadelphia.

“Community College of Philadelphia is excited to partner with IBGVR to help bring justice and light to families affected by gun violence in the Philadelphia region through the College’s Institute for Community Engagement and Civic Leadership,” said Michelle Lopez, manager of the Institute.

Get updates by visiting the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting online and entering your email address into the home page subscription form.

Here's what you can do

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.

We have good reason to believe this work will make a difference. Your contributions will make more programming possible at the new Center for Gun Violence Reporting.

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