As someone who was born and raised in Chicago, I know what it feels like to have your community written about but not necessarily written for. I’ve seen how the endless cycle of news centered on trauma and tragedy misses the complexities of Chicago’s gun violence crisis, ignoring the underlying systems and policy decisions that create and concentrate violence. I have witnessed the immense loss that reverberates through a community when someone is killed by a gun. And I’ve heard the stories of the people whose deaths make up our victim counts, from friends, family, and neighbors who worry that despite near-constant media coverage of the violence and calls for change, the city isn’t doing anything that makes us feel safer.

As The Trace’s new community engagement reporter for Chicago, my goal is to learn how we can center those Chicagoans most affected by shootings and the surrounding criminal justice issues in every step of our coverage. In my job, I want to ask: What would the coverage of gun violence in Chicago look like if we let the people who are closest to this problem lead the way? What stories would we tell? What accounts would we stop relying on? What systems could we chip away at? Who would we hold accountable? What information gaps could we fill so that our reporting helps impacted people better navigate this crisis? 

I have my own thoughts on these questions, but I’m looking to speak with Chicagoans affected by this issue to learn what you need from us. The Trace is the only newsroom dedicated solely to covering our country’s gun violence problem, and we know there’s plenty of work to do in Chicago. What questions do you still have about gun violence in the city? What do you want us to investigate? What stories of resistance and healing should we highlight? How can we tell a more accurate story about violence in Chicago that is free of stereotypes and sensationalization? 

Fill out the form below to tell us what you think. Please share it widely — with your friends, family, social media followers, and anyone else you know that is committed to making Chicago a safer place for everyone.