The sun sets over West Somerset Street in Kensington, during a six-hour gun violence outbreak last year which left two people dead and six more wounded. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.
After publishing every day for more than two and a half years — illuminating the epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia and seeking solutions — the Gun Crisis Reporting Project will cease daily reporting this Friday, November 7th.
For now, we will continue gathering and analyzing data, participating in community events, and will continue to respond to crime scenes, memorials, and other events when possible. And we plan to keep producing and distributing our free monthly email newsletter.
Meanwhile, we have compiled all of our posts in the #GunCrisis Knowledge Base, which you can also find in the menu at the left of each page, except for previous incident reports, which you can find by searching the site.
Reporting from GunCrisis.org has been honored with community awards and recognized with journalism and social media honors, as well as national and international media attention.
Altogether, we have published nearly 2,000 posts, roughly 4,000 photographs and nearly 400,000 words, addressing Philadelphia gun violence over nearly 1,000 days since we launched in March 2012. We have also produced more than 50 video reports and kept our communities informed with more than 35,000 Twitter updates, including our former national incident reporting account.
Most importantly, we can correlate our work with a 25 percent reduction in Philadelphia homicides; in a city where 80 percent of the killing is committed with guns.
During our first year, 331 homicides were reported in Philadelphia, but that number was reduced to 247 in 2013, according to Philadelphia Police data. The number of wounded survivors has also declined, indicating declines in traumatic experiences and economic damage as well.
We attribute most of the progress to the courageous, hard work of community groups and individuals confronting violence, to public health intervention workers, law enforcement officers, researchers and some legislators, as well as to innovations in emergency medicine and data-informed policing, but especially to the people strong enough to put down the guns.
We also think we made a difference, as communicators and catalysts.
Strategic planning researchers revealed that we have had the attention of decision makers in Philadelphia, and more than a few have communicated with us directly, sometimes publicly via social media.
We presented at twice at Philadelphia City Council and officials have since funded programs we endorsed and invited experts we recommended.
We have advised leading local journalists and guided visiting news organizations to focus on those working to reduce violence. We have also been invited to present at many of the region’s leading colleges and universities, as well as community events.
But funding has been impossible. We have pursued grants large and small, and investigated underwriting, partnerships and crowdsourcing, but with little success, in spite of generous and expert grant-writing support from friends and colleagues who have volunteered their time.
The democratization of distribution has not been accompanied by the democratization of support. Independent journalism seems to thrive most often when philanthropists seek journalists to fulfill their ambitions — rather than the opposite — but even the former model has been known to fail gloriously.
In the end, most of what we have accomplished has come at the expense of our volunteer staff. For some, there were more direct costs, such as filling gas tanks and maintaining equipment, while others gave more time and lost more income. The emotional toll of this work has been daunting as well, to put it mildly.
Next, we are studying with this fall’s cohort of fellows in the Philadelphia Social Innovation Lab, which could lead to a new, sustainable gun violence reduction project — but much work remains to be done.
Keep in touch with our free monthly email newsletter. (Please subscribe now.)
We want to thank our advisors, supporters and especially our individual donors — for their inspiration as much as for their dollars.
And we want to thank everyone who has been working to end the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia.
Posted by Jim MacMillan.
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The Gun Crisis Reporting Project is an award-winning, independent, nonprofit journalism community striving to illuminate the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia — and to find solutions.