Reporting on Violence as a Public Health Issue: An AHCJ Summit


Thursday, Oct. 27

7 a.m.  |  Registration opens


7:15-8:15 a.m.  |  Breakfast available


8:30-8:40 a.m.  |  Welcome and thank yous/Introduce Kelsey

  • Katherine Reed, director of education and content, AHCJ


8:40-8:45 a.m.  |  Greeting/Introduce Dr. Rogers

  • Kelsey Ryan, executive director, AHCJ


8:45-9:15 a.m.  |  Reporting on gun violence as a public health crisis is a matter of life and death

  • Dr. Selwyn Rogers, Dr. James E. Bowman Jr. Professor of Surgery Chief, Section of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Founding Director, Trauma Center Executive Vice President, Community Health Engagement University of Chicago Medicine


9:15-10:15 a.m.  |  The groundwork: Reflecting the reality of gun violence as a public health problem

Fatal shootings are often framed as the inevitable result of social conflict. What if journalists instead covered it as a public health issue, akin to a disease that’s curable, and even preventable, with evidence-based treatments? This panel of journalists will discuss the racial and economic drivers of gun violence and how to incorporate solutions into coverage while also handling the pressure to produce stories that align with the traditional expectations of the “crime beat.”

  • Moderator: Arionne Nettles, lecturer, Northwestern/Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Kaitlin Washburn, independent journalist, Chicago
  • Sammy Caiola, gun violence prevention reporter, WHYY
  • Kris Hooks, news editor, capradio/NPR, Sacramento


10:15-11:30 a.m.  |  Everything you think you know about guns is wrong: Myths, facts and where to find the best research and data

Whether you’re new to reporting on gun violence or have been at it for a while, chances are you've made some assumptions or hold some beliefs that are wrong. This session will help set the record straight and highlight available resources for data and expertise on the topics of guns and gun-related deaths.

  • Moderator: Christine Herman, Side Effects Public Media/AHCJ board member
  • Jennifer Mascia, reporter, The Trace
  • John Roman, senior fellow, Economics, Justice and Society Group at NORC/University of Chicago
  • Thomas Simon, associate director,  CDC/Science, Division of Violence Prevention


11:30-12:15 a.m.  |  "Red Flag" Laws: The use of court orders to reduce gun violence

Red flag laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, have created legal mechanisms to temporarily remove guns from people at risk for hurting themselves or others. Yet, questions are often raised in the wake of shooting violence, including most recently in Highland Park, Ill., about why the laws are not deployed more often. This panel will explore where the laws exist, how they are used and whether systems can be improved to increase their use, with input from researchers and mental health professionals who provide crisis response and care.

  • Moderator: Anne Sweeney, reporter, the Chicago Tribune
  • Shannon Frattaroli, professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Veronica Pear, assistant professor, University of California-Davis
  • Jonathan Davis, L.P.C., executive director, Baltimore Crisis Response


12:15-1:15 p.m. |  Changing the narrative on gun violence reporting in Philadelphia

What happens when a community pulls together to change the way gun violence is reported and reduce the violence? 

  • Dr. Jessica Beard, MD, MPH, is a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital, the busiest hospital for firearm injuries in Philadelphia. She is also the director of research for the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting and a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow. Dr. Beard’s research examines firearm injury epidemiology, local news content on gun violence, and the perspectives of firearm-injured people in media reports.


1:15-1:30 p.m.  |  Break


1:30-2:30 p.m.  |  What exposure to chronic violence — especially among children — does to human health

Growing up in a community with persistent violence, from gunfire to poverty, takes a toll on the way people live and see themselves in the world. The toll is significant, whether a person is directly impacted by violence or a witness to it. This panel will take a wide lens and help journalists understand how to look not just at what’s happening in a community but at systemic issues that are contributing to chronic violence.

  • Moderator: Kristen Schorsch, reporter, WBEZ-Chicago
  • Kathryn Bocanegra, assistant professor, University of Illinois-Chicago
  • Theresa Valach, clinical director, Chicago Child Trauma Center at La Rabida Children's Hospital in Chicago
  • Bruce Stamps, violence recovery specialist, Urban Health Initiative/The University of Chicago Medicine
  • Arturo Carrillo, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., licensed clinical social worker and director of health and violence prevention at Brighton Park Neighborhood Council.


2:30-3:30 p.m.  |  How human risk perception plays into gun ownership and gun safety

Research shows that guns increase the risk of suicide, homicide, and unintentional injury. Yet gun sales are surging, primarily fueled by the belief that gun ownership is a risk worth taking. This panel will explore how attitudes toward the state of society spur people to buy guns more than actual threats to their lives; the role of guns in an American identity that’s increasingly being viewed as “under threat” because of shifting demographics; and how we can better understand the way gun owners perceive risk.

  • Moderator: Jen Mascia, reporter, The Trace
  • Deborah Azrael, researcher, director of research at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center (HICRC)
  • Joseph Simonetti, assistant professor and clinical investigator,  Injury & Violence Prevention Center Internal Medicine Division of Hospital Medicine (CU Anschutz); Veterans Health Administration
  • Tara D. Warner, associate professor,  University of Alabama at Birmingham


3:30-3:45 p.m.  |  Break


3:45-4:45 p.m.  |  The role of physicians in addressing community violence

Federal data show that more than 50% of firearm deaths are suicides, and gun violence is the No. 1 cause of mortality among American children and teens. Many U.S. physicians who want to address firearm safety with their patients can’t because of laws that prohibit them from doing so. In this panel, frontline physicians who see the short- and long-term effects of gun violence will discuss why clinicians, including emergency trauma surgeons, pediatricians and primary care doctors, play a critical role in preventing firearm injuries and death. They will also discuss the legal and professional risks many of their peers face in bringing up the topic with patients and share resources that address gun violence as a public health issue.

  • Moderator: Margarita Martín-Hidalgo Birnbaum, independent journalist/AHCJ core topic leader on health equity, Dallas, TX
  • Dr. Bradley Stolbach,  associate professor of pediatrics, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, University of Chicago
  • Dr. Richard Miskimins, associate trauma medical director,  University of New Mexico Health
  • Dr. Abdullah Pratt, emergency medicine physician, University of Chicago Medicine
  • Dr. Megan Ranney, emergency physician and researcher, Brown University


4:45-5 p.m.  |  Break


5-6:30 p.m.  |  Reception



Friday, Oct. 28

7 a.m.  |  Registration opens


7:30-8:30 a.m.  |  Breakfast available


8:30-9:45 a.m.  |  What's happening with hospital-based violence intervention programs

Emergent care can be seen as the form of care furthest from preventive medicine. But it’s also the starting point for an approach to reducing violence that is gaining traction. Hospital-based violence intervention looks to help victims of violence reduce the odds of perpetrating violence themselves by providing them with more than just medical care after an incident. Hear from experts in the field about the challenges they’ve faced and the solutions they’ve found in implementing this innovative approach.

  • Sebastián Martínez Valdivia, public health reporter, KBIA/NPR, AHCJ board member
  • Dr. Selwyn Rogers, Dr. James E. Bowman Jr. Professor of Surgery Chief, Section of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery Founding Director, Trauma Center Executive Vice President, Community Health Engagement,  University of Chicago Medicine
  • Kyle Fischer, policy director,  Health Alliance for Violence Intervention


9:45-10 a.m.  |  Bio break


10-11 a.m.  |  Transforming news coverage of gun violence

It’s one thing to discuss best practices for reporting on gun violence and prevention, but what are some concrete steps we can take to turn those ideas into newsroom policy and real outcomes? Frontline reporters and educators will discuss their efforts, the impediments they have encountered, where they have found support and their strategies for making a difference.

  • Moderator: Jim MacMillan, director, Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting
  • Kaitlin Washburn, independent journalist, Chicago
  • Will Lee, reporter, The Chicago Tribune
  • Yvonne Latty, professor,  Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication
  • Les Jenkins, victim services program manager,  Institute for Nonviolence Chicago


11:10 a.m.-12:10 p.m.  |  Reporting on violence with humanity from “walk-through” to publication: What reporters should know

As awareness has grown of journalists as “first responders,” so has our understanding of the impact reporters, photojournalists, videographers and other media representatives can have on communities and survivors of violence. The work can also have a negative impact on journalists’ health. How can journalists “bear witness,” make meaning of what they see and hear in a more collaborative spirit — minimizing harm to survivors, their communities and themselves? The work of longtime Chicago Tribune reporting team Peter Nickeas (now with CNN) and Jason Wambgans will form the centerpiece of this discussion of ethics, practice and the realities of covering violence.

  • Moderator: Katherine Reed, director of education and content, AHCJ
  • Peter Nickeas, speaker/reporter, CNN
  • Jason Wambgans, photojournalist, Chicago Tribune


12:15 p.m. Goodbye and thanks


12:30 p.m.  |  Field trip departs

A shuttle bus will leave the AHCJ conference hotel promptly at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 28 to go to the University Chicago of Medicine. A box lunch will be provided to eat on the bus. Field trip participants should expect to return to the hotel around 5 p.m.