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Better Gun Violence Reporting: A Toolkit for Minimizing Harm

May 28, 2024

News coverage of gun violence often inadvertently perpetuates stereotypical narratives about the people and communities most impacted. Typical coverage focuses on individual episodes of gun violence and often lacks an explanation of what causes it and what could be done to prevent it. These reporting practices can further stigmatize marginalized communities and promote fatalism around gun violence prevention. By changing the way gun violence is covered, reporters can take an active role in minimizing harm to injured people, communities, and society—and even make an important contribution toward preventing gun violence.

This toolkit was designed with journalists in mind, but it includes guidance that can inform the communications strategies of public health professionals, prevention advocates, and other communicators. It features a quick-start guide for trauma-informed reporting, dos and don’ts for talking about episodic gun violence, examples of harmful vs. preventative narratives, and brief explanations of structural causes and the ways they might be incorporated into the stories we tell.