Philadelphia Enterprise Reporting Awards: Stop and Frisk
A broadly collaborative group teamed up to do a video and narrative examination of the results of the Philadelphia Police Department’s ramped-up stop-and-frisk policy, launched in 2008, on overall crime in West Philadelphia. Scribe Video Center partnered with its affiliate, WPEB-FM community radio, and WURD 900, a major African-American AM station. Companion articles were produced in three community newspapers – Scoop, the Neighborhood Leader and the University City Review.
“We had intended to work with two community newspapers,” said Louis Massiah of Scribe Video Center. “We are now working with three newspapers and a [new] radio station (WURD).”
“Stop and Frisk” became a hot-button campaign issue in the 2007 mayoral election, when the winning candidate declared support for this policing approach to try to reduce the city’s homicide rate. The homicides were attributed to the proliferation of licensed and unlicensed guns in poor communities, specifically poor African-American and Latino communities with high unemployment for young males. A variety of community leaders questioned the civil rights and racial implications of the practice.
With the current 2011 mayoral election underway, the partners sought to re-examine the issue.
Because of all the collaboration’s moving parts – recruitment, training, production and post-production, in addition to maintaining the collaborations – the Stop-and-Frisk project ran a bit behind schedule. WPEB, which is operated by the Scribe Video Center, ran four stories. WURD-FM joined the project and also ran the stories. Associated content appeared in the University City Review site, which is owned by Bob Christian, a WPEB board member. The Neighborhood Leader also published a story.
"We had intended to work with two community newspapers. We are now working with three newspapers and a [new] radio station (WURD)."
- Louis Massiah, Scribe Center
With the Enterprise funding, Scribe Video Center offered an Enterprise Journalism workshop for community broadcasters from WPEB, an all-volunteer community radio station serving the 125,000 residents of West Philadelphia. Scribe owns the license to the station and has served as its steward as it works to become an independent entity. Its broadcast area covers over 10 square miles, much of it densely populated by African-Americans and immigrants from Africa. The station also covers the campuses of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Sciences and Drexel University. Approximately 30 percent of all residents have incomes below the poverty level.
The workshop provided hands-on experience in reporting techniques, including research, field production, writing and editing, as well as discussions about journalistic approaches and ethics.
Two instructors guided the workshop. Susan Phillips, a staff reporter at WHYY radio, is also a long-time resident of West Philadelphia. Heshimu Jaramogi, WURD news director as well as publisher of the Neighborhood Leader community newspaper, is a longtime print and broadcast journalist. The workshop also included guest presentations by Robert Christian, editor of the University City Review; Bruce Webb of the Philadelphia Scoop; and attorney David Rudovsky.
Six WPED community broadcasters were recruited to participate. They received equipment training and interviewed people for 5- to 8-minute radio pieces. Five completed the training and produced stories that aired on WPEB. The five pieces were completed and were broadcast in June, July and August 2011.
The workshop participants will now serve as the core of the “News and Public Affairs” subcommittee of the WPEB Programming Committee. The finished pieces were scheduled to be available on the WPEB website later in the year.
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