Credible Messenger Reporting Project

The Credible Messenger Reporting Project empowers people impacted by gun violence to report on root causes, lived experience and possible solutions from the community perspective. Credible Messengers are paired with advanced professional journalists to learn from each other and leverage their combined authority to produce and distribute independent news reports, with support provided by the Center. Maxayn Gooden is our Credible Messenger Community Manager.


Credible Messenger Reports

Life Without Her

Six mothers talk about their daughters, all under ages 23, who lost their lives to gun violence in Philadelphia. Some were athletes, musicians or just great young women who had their whole lives ahead of them until they were snatched away.

Community gun violence prevention activist and victim advocate Zariah Lomax was the Credible Messenger community journalist behind this report. Local television news producer Rhonda Heckstall was the professional partner. Immortal Vision Studies produced the video.

The producers hope to bring change and awareness by supporting the families and informing possible future perpetrators who might remember the suffering and loss.

Trailer: The Second Trauma

The Second Trauma is a collaboration between the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting and the Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting at Temple University and will premiere in January, 2024. Director and producer: Prof. Yvonne Latty of the Logan Center. Producer and host: Oronde McClain of PCGVR. Credible Messengers: Armond James and Angela Wade.

Philly Truce

From Credible Messenger Mazzie Casher and Professional Reporting Partner Chelsea Scruggs. Editing: Nathan Unuigbe. Director of Photography/Camera operator: Eric Quay.

We are telling the story of PHILLY TRUCE, a nonprofit working to save young men of color from lives of crime. Based on the premise that Philadelphia has averaged 350 homicides per year for the past 50 years, with at least 85% of all perpetrators and victims being men of color. The story of PHILLY TRUCE is told in the context of historic movements in the black communities of Philadelphia specifically, House of Umoja and the Black Mafia; and how those movements played into the cycles of violence in their heydays.

Sitting On the Steps

Credible Messenger: Aja King
Professional Reporting Partner: Amanda DeJesus
Video Producer: Milan Peele

From Aja King: The untold stories of how the loss of a sibling affects the surviving siblings. My only brother Emir Greene was murdered in 1997 my senior year of high school. My heart was broken and my life was turned upside down. I want to tell the story of how siblings feel over looked as co-victims/survivors. I would like to share my experience of love, loss and legacy of losing my only brother to gun violence in the city of Philadelphia. It will bring forth the stories of surviving siblings, help others to understand they’re not selfish and that their feelings are important too. It may help them and the entire family seek grief therapy so they can heal.

The Life of Marcus Yates

Credible Messenger: Malcom Yates. Profesional Reporting Partner: Monique Curry-Mims.

A life that was cut short at the age of 5 due to an influx of drugs and guns in our community – issues that still exist in our communities 35 years later. Our story we highlight the missing part of most reporting which is the lives impacted by these issues and the solutions that have yet to be implemented.

Guest commentaries on gun violence prevention

Gun violence survivor and prevention advocate LuQman Abdullah wrote a series of guest commentaries for The Philadelphia Citizen. Jessica Blatt Press, Director of Special Projects at the Citizen was the professional partner on this project.

HOW TO END OUR CULTURE OF GUN VIOLENCE
LISTEN TO TEENS ON GUN VIOLENCE
THE TEAM PHILLY NEEDS NOW

Unsolved Podcast

Ikey Raw interviews Tiffaney Flynn, whose daughter’s murder remains unsolved. Photo by Yvonne Latty/Logan Center

Ikey Raw has dedicated his life to amplifying the stories of families grappling with the unsolved murders of their loved ones. In this podcast Raw talks to Tiffaney Flynn whose daughter Ojanae Thompson was murdered two years ago in a busy shopping center parking lot. The murder remains unsolved. The professional reporting partner on this project was Yvonne Latty, the director of Temple University’s Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting. Listen:

Dramatic Readings from: “Like I’m a Nobody”

This presentation was produced by Philadelphia filmmaker Shameka Sawyer and her 5 Shorts Project in collaboration with, and with support from the Credible Messenger Reporting Project at the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting.

Reliving the trauma. Frustrated with inaccuracies. Feeling dehumanized. These were just some of the harmful effects that gun violence survivors described when asked how they perceived news media reporting about their injuries and about gun violence in their communities. That’s according to a new study from a collaborative of Philadelphia researchers coordinated by our Director of Research, Dr. Jessica Beard.

“Like I’m a nobody:” firearm-injured peoples’ perspectives on news media reporting about firearm violence was published recently in Social Science and Medicine: Qualitative Research in Health.

This video was produced by young people who have also been personally impacted by gun violence, working for the Bout Mine I Matter program at the 5 Shorts Project.

They Don’t Care About Us – or Do They?

This documentary was produced by gunshot survivor Oronde McClain while participating as a community reporter in our Credible Messenger Reporting Project. The professional reporting parter was Cherri Gregg and the video producer was Brett Williams. [Essay, photos and behind the scenes interviews]

Stronger Every Day: Healing After Gun Violence

Tashawn Strother, a community journalist from our Credible Messenger Reporting Project, hosts an audio documentary sharing her family’s journey after her son Walter Willis was shot and critically wounded on New Year’s Eve in 2019. Voices include our Director of Research Dr. Jessica Beard, who is also the trauma surgeon who cared for Walter – and Walter himself. [Behind the scenes interviews]

These Philly Gun Violence Activists Are Not Giving Up On Saving Lives

Brandon Chastang, better known as B. McFly, interviews several prominent figures in Philadelphia’s gun violence prevention community in a series of videos he recently produced for our Credible Messenger Reporting Project. WHYY gun violence prevention reporter Sammy Caiola was the professional partner on this project and Chris Mansfield was the Credible Messenger video producer. [More videos]

“Humanity behind the headlines: Black men on surviving in Philly”

Lost in the calls to action and gruesome headlines are the real lived experiences of young Black men in communities where gun violence is not a news story, a tragic anomaly, or a talking point for evening news anchors, but a routine fact of everyday life.” This long-form report was written by Tyler Campbell. Photographs by Ronald Gray. Dana DiFilippo was the professional parter. [Word and pictures]

Never Ending Emotions

This documentary features a series of interviews addressing the emotional rollercoaster of life-changing events following the murder of a family member and discussing possible solutions to gun violence in Philadelphia. This team included Credible Messenger producer Kimberly Kamara, videographer and editor Gregory Greer and partnering professional journalist Erin Flynn Jay. [More info]

The Lasting Impact: The emotional scars that gun violence leaves behind

The first production from the Credible Messenger Reporting Project focuses on three co-victims of gun violence who worked together to show the long-lasting effects it can have on friends, family and community members. Maxayn Gooden was the Credible Messenger community journalist, Taj Devore-Bey was the Credible Messenger video producer and Chris Hepp was professional reporting partner. [More info]

The Path Forward

This short documentary called shares a conversation among four mothers who lost sons to gun violence in Philadelphia, with intimate experiences from first getting the news to learning how to survive. Dorothy Johnson-Speight was the Credible Messenger community journalist and Denise James was the professional reporting partner. [Read more]

Numb to Normalcy: Gun Violence in America

This video features intimate conversations among Ahmad Mitchell, Taylor Dixon-Moore and Yolanda Brutley-Dugger, students at Community College of Philadelphia who serves as Credible Messengers. The professional partner was Proof of Consciousness (P.O.C.), along with with assistant directors Aapril Rice and Alisha Laws. [More info]

Voices Beyond the Gunfire

Professional reporting partner Solomon Jones of WURD Radio curated this series of five radio interviews — conducted by three interviewers. This series elevates the voices that have not been heard on the issue of gun violence: those whose very lives are at risk. Credible Messengers included Darrell Holloway, Edwin “Tony” Murchison, Angela Sears, Brian Wallace and Joshua Cosby. [Listen to the complete series]

Apply to participate

• Apply to become a Credible Messenger community journalist
• Apply to become a Professional Reporting Partner
• Credible Messenger Project Proposal Form
• Frequently asked questions
• Request to invite Professional Reporting Partner
• Resources for Credible Messenger Reporting Teams

Credible messenger Events

Second Annual Credible Messenger Film Festival

We gathered at Temple University on July 29 for our Second Annual Credible Messenger Film Festival, this time screening several short documentaries from some of our favorite partnering organizations, each followed by panel discussions including some of the producers, participants and other media experts. More info and slideshow:

Credible Messenger Link-Up and Info Session

More than 40 people attended our first Credible Messenger Link-Up and Info Session on May 6 at Temple University, including some of the city’s most prominent journalists and gun violence prevention community leaders. Presenters included Maxayn Gooden, Jim MacMillan and Oronde McClain from our Center plus Philadelphia Inquirer breaking news reporter Beatrice Forman and Temple journalism professor Yvonne Latty.. MORE PHOTOS AND INFO

Inaugural Credible Messenger Film Festival

Our first-ever Credible Messenger Film Festival took place at the Cope House at Awbury Arboretum in the Germantown section Philadelphia in late August, 2022. We screened every short documentary we had supported to date, each followed by a panel discussion including some of the community journalists, producers and professional partners behind each production as well as some of the people who appeared. The events were both produced hosted by our Credible Messenger Newsroom Liaison Oronde McClain and Community Engagement Manager Maxayn Gooden. More info and slide show:

Inside the 2022 Credible Messenger Film Festival

Our first-ever Credible Messenger Film Festival took place at the Cope House at Awbury Arboretum in the Germantown section Philadelphia in late August, 2022. We screened every short documentary we have supported to date, each followed by a panel discussion including some of the community journalists, producers and professional partners behind each production as well as some of the people who appeared. The events were both produced hosted by our Credible Messenger Newsroom Liaison Oronde McClain and Community Engagement Manager Maxayn Gooden. Photographs by Kriston Jae Bethel and Allie Ippolito. About the Credible Messenger Reporting Project This film was produced by Kenneth Wooten of STBY Studio while participating in the The Credible Messenger Reporting Project. The Credible Messenger Reporting Project trains, compensates and empowers people impacted by gun violence in Philadelphia to produce and distribute news reports on its root causes, their lived experience and possible solutions from the community perspective, with guidance from professional journalists.

Coming soon: Life Without Her

This documentary is complete and will premiere in December, 2023. Credible Messenger: Zarinah Lomax. Professional Reporting Partner: Rhonda Heckstall.

We will sharing the stories of 5 women who lost their lives to gun violence in Philadelphia. It is important to show the uprising of murders in Philadelphia and how it has increased with women as well. It addresses the increase of violence where women and children have lost their lives at a higher rate. Through sharing the pain of the families we hope to bring change and awareness to the families and possible future perpetrators who will remember the pain of the families from their loss. Each story that will be shared are of 5 women who were randomly killed in Philadelphia. Some were athletes, musicians or just great young women who had their whole lives ahead of them but was snatched. All the women are under the age of 23 to focus the impact this has on youth.

In production

Left in the Dark

Credible Messenger: Brett Williams. Professional Partner: Astrid Martinez. Producer: Jeffrey Chandler.

Brett Williams
“Left in the Dark” ties in a side of justice that needs highlighting; the living survivors of homicide victims. Survivors of homicide victims, also called co-victims are family members, friends, and other loved ones of the victim. They feel the life-changing impact of the trauma, hardship, and loss that result from the crime. The violent, unexpected death of a family member, intimate partner, or close friend is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can face, and it prompts a wide range of emotional reactions. Co-victims also may find that the trauma or stigma of the crime complicates the “normal” grief of losing a loved one. Being left in the dark means being uninformed or unaware of something, often because of a lack of communication or information. It can refer to a situation in which someone is not being given the information or support they need to understand what is happening or to make decisions. For example, a co-victim of homicide might feel left in the dark if they are not being kept informed about the progress of the investigation or if they are not being given sufficient support to cope with their grief and loss. In this context, being left in the dark can cause feelings of uncertainty, frustration, and isolation.

Traditions in Peace

Credible Messenger: Benita Brown
Profesional Reporting Partner: Michael Greenidge

With our project, we plan to connect with families who have been directly affected by gun violence in Philadelphia. Through one-on-one interviews, the stories are first-hand accounts of losing a loved one in this very tragic way. Our goal is to provide an uplifting space where families can share fond memories through verbal and non-verbal communication —specifically, the spoken word, dance, and music.

Untitled

Credible Messenger: Anthony Brown. Professional Partner: Maia Rosenfeld.

We plan to report a story following a variety of perspectives on gun violence in Southwest and West Philadelphia, including youth who have personally experienced gun violence, mothers who have lost a child to gun violence, elected officials, and both participants and influencers in the ABro Experience program. We will focus on the ABro Experience and the impact it is having on the communities of Southwest and West. This reporting is important because it will highlight the ABro Experience and the credible messengers in the project. It will give an all-around view of what’s happening in the community from all possible perspectives. It will have an impact for the individuals highlighted in the project, and it will give an introduction to how the arts can prevent violence and improve social emotional learning.

In development

Strings of Deceit: A Man’s Tale of Betrayal, Bullets, and Broken Justice.

Credible Messenger: Gary Logan. Professional Reporting Partner: Denise Clay-Murray

This story is going to focus on the intersection of gun violence and domestic violence, but not in the way it’s usually talked about. We’re going to talk about domestic violence from the point of view of Black men and the part gun violence sometimes plays in it by speaking to Black men who have found themselves in this position and also by telling my own story of how it impacted my life.