Incorporating the Youth Perspective

Tips on covering youth violence from veteran journalist and ethnic media trainer Stephen Franklin.

Award-winning journalist Stephen Franklin helped develop and launch the anti-violence campaign “We Are Not Alone/No Estamos Solos” to bring black and Latino communities together to spotlight anti-violence initiatives around Chicago. In the process he developed a useful guide for reporting on youth violence, which you can view in its entirety at the Chicago Is the World website. Here are a few of the most essential tips for journalists.

Creating your stories….

  • Narrow your reporting to describe individuals and scenes
  • Tell complex stories with one or two individuals in these systems
  • Take your readers, audience, listeners to witness and see how police, courts, juvenile detention facilities operate. Stay on one angle and follow-up frequently.

Create a narrative that makes the story personal and human.

  • Tell the story of one event through different eyes.
  • Describe the life on a street – at a school – location where youth crime occurred
  • Follow one person through the system
  • Describe the trauma created for the victims and those caught up in the crime.
  • Use google maps and Ushahidi  or See Click Fix digital tools to chart crime-related issues to visualize the impact of the issue on a community.
  • Tell us about the community and what problems youths face: poverty, unemployment, school dropout rates, access to public facilities, access to social work agencies.

Don’t nurture despair, overwhelming situations or leave your community without offering solutions.

  • Who are the heroes in the hood?
  • What programs seem to work?
  • What are other communities, cities, states and the federal government doing?
  • Can you include NGOs and community groups in writing blogs or podcasts?
  • How do organizations cooperate? What is their funding? What do they say about their success, failures, expectations?
  • Consider how you can use youth media, community or crowd sourcing, bloggers and blog aggregators. How can you map your reporting? What audio-visual presence are you creating? 

Watch a video of Stephen Franklin's presentation at a 2011 Dart Center workshop on covering youth violence.