Inside A Month of America’s School Shootings
2024 Finalist

Inside A Month of America’s School Shootings

The Economist

London, United Kingdom

Category Newsroom Development

Overview of this campaign

We aimed to depict a typical month of gun crime in schools, and profile a series of incidents that illustrated the difficulties of preventing such crime. There is no federal record of every time a gun is fired on school property in America, nor an agreed definition of a school shooting. This made collecting and verifying data tricky. We worked with David Riedman, a researcher who maintains a database of incidents, but also verified each of his reports ourselves, by contacting dozens of schools and law-enforcement agencies. Many schools and authorities were reluctant to talk about the incidents, either due to ongoing legal proceedings or because of reputational risk. The reporting required both statistical rigour and sensitivity, especially when convincing people to speak about their experiences on camera. Finally, though not the first time The Economist has combined video, data and text journalism, this is the most ambitious and complex project in which we have done so. We wanted to maintain The Economists thorough analysis while telling more personal stories, and explore new ways of presenting our journalism (eg in an explorable calendar at the end of the online article, allowing readers to dig deeper into our data).

 


Results for this campaign

The project shone light on an often poorly covered aspect of gun crime in America: the lack of comprehensive data collection and the poor policy choices that can lead to. It also shared the sometimes traumatic personal stories of people caught up in school gun-crime. And as a result of our work with David Riedman of the K-12 school shootings database, he is now tracking “swatting” incidents (hoax threats that prompt a police response) in schools. Within The Economist it showed the value of new ways of storytelling, combining video reporting with data journalism and more traditional reporting. The success of the project has led to more such collaboration, as well as a renewed appetite to find new digital formats and methods of presentation that can offer readers a richer experience than a print article might.


Contact

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