About

The Gun Crisis Reporting Project is a nonprofit journalism organization, focused on the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia — and seeking solutions.

Police investigate after a different officer opened fire on a man who officials say was shooting at other men during an incident last month in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Photograph for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

A bloody gun marks the scene after police opened fire on a man who officials say was shooting at other men during an incident in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

The Need:

Philadelphia has suffered the highest rate of homicide per capita among America’s largest 15 cities since 2006 and the number of murders has risen each year since 2009. In 2012, 85 percent of the people killed in our city were shot to death.

In recent years, innovations in public health and criminology have led to double-digit reductions in gun violence in several other cities and corners of our own. But we are not doing enough.

Leaders say that everybody has to come together to end this epidemic, but there is no place to meet. We are building that community at GunCrisis.org.

a child looks on after a double shooting left one man dead at about 8 p.m. Wednesday in the area of 18th and Cumberland Streets in North Philadelphia. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

A child looks on as police investigate a double shooting that left one man dead in North Philadelphia.

The Program:

The Gun Crisis Reporting Project — launched in March, 2012 — is an award-winning, independent, nonprofit journalism organization, designed to illuminate the epidemic of homicide by gunfire in Philadelphia — and to present solutions.

First, we meet the needs of citizens by providing original reporting on uncovered or under-covered gun violence incidents across Philadelphia, including the impact of gun violence for all stakeholders, in context and in a chronology that begins with root causes.

Next, we report on the groups and individuals pursuing possible solutions to end the epidemic of homicide by gunfire, and look for evidence of successful intervention in our city and beyond.

We avoid polarizing political debates on gun access, striving instead to support solutions that everyone can support. While others quarrel over the supply of guns, we hope to reduce the demand.

We engage community leaders, public officials, students and scholars in public forums, and engage online readers to participate in a conversation on solutions.

We support other violence prevention groups and events with publicity, social media and communications, a directory of service providers, event promotion and a public calendar.

We collaborate with local, national and international media to redirect gun violence reporting narratives to focus on solutions and the path to peace.

The catalyst behind our project was a conference on best practices for youth violence reporting, organized by the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and convened at WHYY in Philadelphia in 2011.

In addition, the core staff of the Gun Crisis Reporting Project is made up of four award-winning journalists with more than 50 combined years of reporting experience in Philadelphia.

We are further informed by our daily reporting process, meeting residents at crime scenes, participating in community events, reading about criminology, walking the streets with public health practitioners, meeting political leaders, scouring the media — and more.

Shell casings litter the scene as police investigate a fatal shooting Monday night in North Philadelphia. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

Shell casings litter the scene as police investigate a fatal shooting in North Philadelphia.

Innovation:

We combine the best practices in peace journalism, trauma-informed journalism and social media journalism to create a solutions-driven approach to gun violence reporting.

Rather than simply reporting on each incident without context, we focus on the roots of violence, the chronology of the conflict, the path to peace and possibilities for community engagement.

Instead of simply telling stories, we strive to maintain open conversations across social media and help people in our community tell their own stories.

Employing digital technologies, we are building a network for peace as well as a body of knowledge.

Our first 1,000 blog posts covered 252 crime scenes, included 184 community reports and 101 reports on solutions. More than 92,000 site visitors have consumed almost 600,000 pages — and our social media community numbers in the thousands.

We lead discussions on gun violence solutions at Philadelphia City Council, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania and more.

Our work has been featured by local, national and international media and earned numerous journalism awards.

Most importantly, year-to-date homicides are down by 40 percent in Philadelphia. We hope we made a difference.

Alvita Davis, left, and Nicole Hyman, mothers of murder victims Latia Jones and Rodney Ramseur, Jr., embraced after releasing balloons with about 50 other people during a vigil held in remembrance of the couple Tuesday night on Sparks Streets in the Olney section of Philadelphia. Photographs for the Gun Crisis Reporting Project by Joseph Kaczmarek.

Loved ones came together last month to remember a young couple shot to death in the Olney section of Philadelphia

Moving forward:

We won’t celebrate before we can point to sustained reductions in gun violence, but we continue to quantify our impact step-by-step.

Attention is currency in digital media, and we are working to continue growing our online audience exponentially — to increase awareness of the epidemic of gun violence and to support and illuminate programs and organizations demonstrating success.

We hope to organize and participate in more public events and bring our communities together with elected officials. We hope to see informed civic engagement eventually lead to changes in funding, policy and practice that will contain and eliminate this epidemic.

Funding:

The Gun Crisis Reporting Project is a member of the New Beginnings Nonprofit Incubator at Resources for Human Development, Inc. (RHD). While RHD has provided very generous administrative, development and other professional support, the Gun Crisis Reporting Project receives no direct funding for news gathering operations.

To date, all professional services have been provided free of charge by our volunteer staff of award-winning journalists, most of whom have incurred enormous direct and indirect costs.

Recently, we enabled crowd-funding tools on our site and we have been humbled by the generosity of a small number of supporters, but those contributions have not come close to meeting our costs. We also have high hopes for a couple of small grants in the coming months.

Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges have provided us with interns at their expense, and a Swarthmore class helped with strategic planning. (Come back to hear more about our 2013 interns and summer staff in the near future.)

Next, we have several grant applications in the works, as well as plans for more aggressive crowd-funding, and we are presently developing a strategic plan for economic sustainability.

Bottom line: We need your help.

Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support the Gun Crisis Reporting Project right now. Help us lead the way to ending gun violence. 

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Thank you for your attention and concern for this critical issue. It doesn’t have to be this way, it won’t go on forever — and the harder we work, the sooner we will see the the end of  this epidemic.

Jim MacMillan
Editor
Project update: June, 2013