With a hypothesis that better gun violence reporting can help save lives, RJI Fellow Jim MacMillan is organizing a summit next month to help curate best practices for covering community gun violence and develop a network of journalists to work toward improving gun violence reporting.
“The Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit” will take place Fri. Nov. 8 at WHYY in Philadelphia. MacMillan is a multimedia journalist, educator and leader of The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting.
The daylong event, which is open to anyone, will feature a series of experts from organizations including The John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, Guns and America, The Trace and The Coalition of Trauma Centers for Firearm Injury Prevention. Panelists and speakers will talk about issues including root causes of gun violence and evidence-based solutions, intervention programs and addressing gun violence as a public health epidemic, says MacMillan.
There will also be time for attendees to meet with speakers and other guests to talk about what they're learning.
“I hope for some of it to open eyes to some new perspectives for covering the issue that they haven't considered,” says MacMillan. “For others, I hope they'll actually go back and maybe implement what they learned. And for some, it may just lead them to go back to their organizations and ask questions like, 'Why do we do this this way? Shouldn't we try something else?'”
MacMillan said he ultimately wants to build a community of journalists that is interested in finding out if there's a relationship between reporting and violence prevention, as well as continuing to update the best practices for better gun violence reporting. Best practices from the summit will be added to a comprehensive guidebook that MacMillan is working on as part of his fellowship at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
MacMillan is no stranger to gun violence as a 25-year resident of Philadelphia, a city known for its high rate of gun violence. In his almost two-decade career as a photographer for the Philadelphia Daily News, MacMillan reported on almost 2,000 gun violence incidents, he says.
He's also been an advocate for better gun violence reporting, launching the award-winning Gun Crisis Reporting Project in 2012, speaking at journalism conferences and teaching future journalists about gun violence and possible solutions.
“Sadly, this is an issue that isn't going away and having an RJI fellow who can provide straightforward and relevant help to reporters and editors is a good thing for journalism and society,” said Randy Picht, executive director of the Reynolds Journalism Institute.
If you're unable to attend the event, but would like to help with MacMillan's work and research efforts, you can donate to the project. Readers can also subscribe to MacMillan's monthly newsletter to receive updates about the Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting.