- Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop - http://www.newstips.org -

Covering youth violence

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With WBBM-TV demonstrating how not to do it [2], Community Media Workshop’s Ethnic Media Project offers suggestions for improving coverage youth violence [3], including:

  • Encourage young people to speak for themselves, promoting youth-created media to give them the opportunity to do so. Agencies that provide media training for their leaders, for example, can include young people served by the agency as spokespersons.
  • Demand more context in reporting about crime. Ask newspapers and broadcast outlets to devote more resources to covering crime, drawing on sources other than police and prosecutors to look for root causes and to connect individual events to larger public policies. For example, public health sources can help interpret data and speak about prevention efforts. When reporters and editors do a good job, tell them.
  • Encourage communities to ask the deeper questions: who benefits when young people are portrayed as selfish, irresponsible, and violent?
  • Demand that other youth issues—health care, education, employment, leadership, youth organizing, child abuse—receive as much coverage as crime.
  • Be a critical consumer of news coverage. Don’t be swayed by sensationalistic reporting.
  • Challenge the myths of rising youth crime and school violence. Examine statistics and determine the facts. If you see crime coverage that draws erroneous conclusions, speak out.
  • Tap into the potential of youth as a political force. Youth organizing can help youth create a critical mass to challenge media stereotypes.
  • Look for solutions other than incarceration for youth crime. Journalists covering youth crime have an opportunity to publicize such solutions by interviewing youth advocates and even youth themselves.

There’s lots more at the Chicago is the World [3] blog.  There’s a workshop for ethnic media on the subject Saturday morning at the National Museum of Mexican Art.  It’s part of the We Are Not Alone/No Estamos Solos [4] campaign, an effort to improve reporting on crime in the black and Latino news media.