In April 2015, we hosted a national specialized reporting institute to help reporters better cover the issues of race, police, and community. The two and a half day conference, held at Columbia College Chicago, became even more poignant when violence broke out in Baltimore after 25-year-old Freddie Gray was arrested and killed while in police custody.
About 23 journalists from all over the country, met with dozens of experts, teenagers, intervention workers, academics, police, and criminologists. They also spent time with top reporters who have covered these issues from National Public Radio, the Washington Post, Milwaukee Sentinel and Chicago Tribune. The reporters who attended gave our program the highest rating possible, 50 percent rated it excellent, 50 percent superior according to the evaluations sent to our sponsors, the Poynter Institute and Robert R. McCormick Foundation.
And three months after the program, in another evaluation, 73 percent of the reporters said they were still using either daily or weekly, something that learned at our institute. The group is still part of a closed Facebook page, where stories and discussions continue about police, racism, reporting, sexism, and violence.
Since then, we have sponsored a panel about this issue to the Journalism and Women’s Symposium, and we hope to get funding to continue discussing these issues throughout the country at various journalism conventions.
Download here our two free guides with best practices and tips for Covering Violence and Covering the Police.