Naomi Starobin, news director at WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn., has been spearheading a project for the six-month anniversary of the shootings in Newtown at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
WSHU knew it wanted to cover this anniversary, but was not sure what its audience and community would desire or expect from the coverage. So it asked them. It pursued the topics of gun control and mental health, but also why this shooting got more attention than shootings in urban areas in the state.
As part of the project, WSHU Public Radio brought together people who were very close to the issues for an hour-long discussion to gain some insight.
Naomi answered a few questions about the project.
What’s your role in this project?
I prepared the proposal with my team of reporters, and I directed the project once we won the funding.
Where did the idea for this topic come from?
I had a thinking session with several reporters, and we put a few ideas together. Back then, it was only a couple of months since the Newtown shootings, and it was clear that some major issues were emerging … issues that citizens, advocates and politicians were going to be facing. Of course we had little idea what exactly we’d want to talk about at the six-month mark, but it was clear there would be a lot to address.
What communities or groups are you focused on engaging with? Why?
The people of Newtown, of course, including political leaders and people who have become active forming nonprofits having to do with gun control, mental health, etc. We also reached out to advocates for reducing gun violence in urban areas. That’s been an important aspect of this story: Why does a shooting in Newtown get more attention than one in Hartford, for instance, and how will the legislative changes enacted affect the level of gun violence in cities.
How are you planning to engage with your audience around this topic? What do you think they’ll find compelling about these stories?
We’ve had robust response to our PIN query, and we used it to shape a dialogue between our reporter and host that we aired on the day marking six months since the shooting. We also used those responses to shape some of the questions put to a panel in an hour-long special that we produced and aired.
What are you hoping the impact of this project will be?
It’s already fostered discussion between Newtown people and people connected with movements to reduce urban gun violence. That has been very interesting to watch and we’ll continue watching it. Also, the hour-long special helped listeners understand some of the more critical issues in depth.