Newsrooms are moving away from a focus on mass shootings to tell more nuanced stories about the people and communities marred by gun violence, says Nieman Reports. A Pew survey says that nearly half of U.S. adults personally know someone who has been shot, either accidentally or intentionally. For many, losing a loved one to gun violence is a traumatizing, heartbreaking loss. It signals the beginning of a long road back to some semblance of normalcy, often with no set timetable for recovery, if ever. Nieman Reports describes a project started by Brad Lichtenstein in Milwaukee. Over two years, he and a colleague produced weekly radio segments that delved past the same-day stories of violence to examine not only who the victims were, but also the issues plaguing the community that led to the murders.
Lichtenstein hired radio producers and forged partnerships with other media outlets, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, WNOV 860-AM, a black-owned radio station, and National Public Radio affiliate WUWM 89.7-FM. In 2015, the Precious Lives Project launched. A 100-part weekly series, Precious Lives extensively covered youth violence. Stories ranged from emergency room doctors who treat victims to chaplains who perform services and comfort families. Some stories looked at logistics, such as the cost to taxpayers when someone is shot. Other stories searched for solutions, such as how similar-sized cities dealt with issues of gun violence. Nieman Reports says that, “finding ways to tell these broader, nuanced stories has helped move the conversation away from stigmatizing communities and toward examining the societal conditions that lead to these tragedies.”