It’s no secret that journalists sometimes get things wrong, or do harm in the process of covering a story — even when they have the best intentions. This is perhaps clearest in crime and violence reporting: Journalists have historically relied on flawed, misleading police narratives; privileged a concept of “objectivity” that diminishes the voices of people of color, who are disproportionately affected by law enforcement violence; rushed national reporters to the sites of mass shootings to bombard grieving residents with phone calls and door knocks; and include the names of suspects in stories that can haunt them for years, even if they’re never charged with a crime.

At The Trace, we recognize the harms that come from these practices, and work actively to take a trauma-informed approach to our beat. That’s why we’re proud to announce the launch of our Local Reporting Initiative and a dedicated home for stories on gun violence in Chicago and Philadelphia. This expansion comes from the knowledge that gun violence varies from place to place, and that responsible newsgathering in specific communities must respond to residents’ needs.

“Covering a community means you need to come back to the same people again and again, gain trust, and, yes, look someone in the eye after you write anything about them,” says senior editor Joy Resmovits, who spearheaded development of The Trace’s local initiative.

Gun violence is chronic, and often misrepresented, in Chicago and Philadelphia, and officials have faced little accountability. The Trace’s work in these cities pairs enterprise reporters with full-time community engagement reporters, to deliver in-depth, change-making journalism guided by community needs. All of our local reporters — in Philly, Mensah M. Dean and Afea Tucker; in Chicago, Justin Agrelo and Rita Oceguera — are from or have long lived in the place they cover.

“We can’t just show up on people’s worst days and expect them to open up to us,” Resmovits says. “At its best, this combination [of reporters] can make us more inclusive and democratic. It results in rigorous coverage subjects can feel good about, because, in a sense, they’re in the driver’s seat.”

As we apply lessons learned from our local coverage to improve our work, The Trace will also look for opportunities to expand to other cities. Do you think your area could benefit from The Trace’s approach to reporting on gun violence and public safety? Let us know by filling out this form.


How Better Journalism Could Serve Gun Violence Victims: A trauma surgeon’s study aims to convince more reporters to consider victims’ well-being when covering crime.

DOJ Funding Sparks Newfound Optimism for Community Violence Intervention: At a recent convening, federal grant recipients described the funds as a long-awaited acknowledgment that their work has value.

What to Know This Week

The accused Colorado Springs shooter ran a neo-Nazi website, a detective testified in a hearing to determine if the government can pursue hate crime charges. Investigators said they found a rainbow-colored gun target and a sketch of the layout of Club Q, the queer nightclub that was attacked late last year, at the alleged shooter’s apartment. [Associated Press/The Denver Post]

The GOP-controlled Virginia House of Delegates voted down every proposed gun safety measure as legislators reached the deadline to act on pending bills during the 2023 session. [Courthouse News]

The man convicted of killing Nipsey Hussle, a Grammy-nominated rapper who was beloved in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where he was shot, received a prison sentence of 60 years to life. [Los Angeles Times]

A 9-year-old girl and a TV reporter were shot and killed at the scene of an earlier shooting that killed a woman in her 20s outside Orlando, police said. The child’s mother and another journalist were also wounded. [BuzzFeed News]

Colorado Democrats want to roll back a two-decades-old statute that makes bringing lawsuits against the gun industry difficult and costly. If the measure passes, Colorado will join several other states that have broadened the circumstances in which gunmakers can be sued. Firearms groups have already launched a multistate challenge to these laws, which circumvent the gun industry’s special federal protections, in an apparent attempt to get their case to the Supreme Court. [The Colorado Sun/The Washington Post]

It’s been three years since Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia. His killers were convicted of murder and hate crimes, but a former district attorney accused of interfering on behalf of the murderers in the investigation has yet to stand trial. [The Current]

After a Temple University police officer was shot and killed while on duty in Philadelphia last weekend, the local community expressed its anger about the area’s everyday gun violence. “Every day, killings,” said one resident. “Senseless killings.” [The Philadelphia Inquirer]

There were 10 mass shootings last weekend — including in Memphis; Columbus, Georgia; New Orleans; Chicago; and Arkabutla, Mississippi — per records from the Gun Violence Archive, which defines them as four people or more injured. That’s the most of any weekend so far this year. [USA TODAY]

The NRA’s top lobbyist, Jason Ouimet, is leaving the gun group after nearly four years in the role. [The Reload] Context: Ouimet’s exit leaves the NRA’s political operation leaderless at a time when the group is seeing steep declines in membership and political donations. — Will Van Sant

Chicago rapper and entrepreneur Bo Deal used to view violence prevention as a “regular job.” Now, he’s on the front lines. [The TRiiBE]

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In Memoriam

Bishop David O’Connell, 69, was hilarious, but not exactly a skilled comedian, LAist reports. He laughed through most of his punchlines, though he did have a fan favorite — something about a priest and an airplane, a joke that showed he was clear-eyed about the Catholic Church’s flaws. O’Connell was found shot to death at his home in Los Angeles last weekend. An immigrant himself, O’Connell worked to help unaccompanied minors and DACA recipients obtain green cards, and advocated for other vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness. He was “the first person to stand with a victim of abuse or any kind of difficulty,” a lawyer who worked closely with O’Connell said.

We Recommend

‘Everything Piled Up’: Surviving COVID-19 and Gun Violence in East Oakland”: “The first time that we heard a shooting in June, 2020, we were exercising, following a Zumba video. … We all ran to the bathroom and hid. We locked ourselves in. I had only heard gunshots in my hometown in Mexico. I never imagined that this would ever happen in the United States.” [The Oaklandside]

Pull Quote

“You tear down these buildings and … you’ve forced them to go to other areas with no means to survive or make ends meet. It’s human nature that you’re going to do what you got to do to survive.”

Bo Deal, a prominent rapper and violence prevention advocate in Chicago, on then-Mayor Richard Daley demolishing public housing projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s, to The TRiiBE