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Poynter’s ‘Covering Guns’ Workshop Has Few Spots Left

By T.C. Cameron

In the aftermath of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., reporting on gun violence has become a major point of emphasis at nearly every news organization.

If you’re a reporter covering your region’s crime scene, you have an opportunity to attend an local workshop and sharpen your aim as a reporter.

The Poynter Institute has collaborated with the University of Maryland to host “Covering Guns” July 10-12. The workshop will be at Knight Hall, home of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and will also feature a visit to a gun range on the campus.

Poynter announced Wednesday it can accommodate seven more registrations for this workshop. Because hotel availability in College Park is limited, this is a perfect opportunity for local journalists who can commute from home or are savvy enough to know where to stay in the outlying regions of the Beltway in either Maryland or Virginia.

Improving the accuracy and depth of coverage of America’s gun debate, without deference to any political agenda or special interests, is the mission of this workshop, which is similar to the McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute workshop Poynter helped create in Chicago in April. That workshop helped journalists learn more about guns and gun laws through practical, hands-on experience and expert teaching.

Attendees will learn:
• The basics of guns and ammunition, the difference between an auto and a semi-automatic weapon, and a .357 and a .22 caliber weapon, as well as which guns are most lethal and why.
• How the Second Amendment does or does not apply to the current debates about gun control.
• How Permit and Background Checks controls are supposed to work and whether they help reduce gun crime.
• Where criminals get their guns and what can be done about it.

David Fallis, one of the journalists who produced the Washington Post’s investigative series “The Hidden Life of Guns” will speak at the workshop.

The training isn’t free. Poynter asks attendees to pay a tuition price scaled to the size and budget of your organization you’re representing. But support from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Scripps Howard News Service and Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation is helping to defray some of the cost of this seminar and the participants’ range fees.

All applications must come through Poynter’s website. The workshop will begin at 4 p.m. July 10, and ends at 3 p.m. July 12.

Accompanying the application is a 300-word essay requirement regarding why you want to attend and how you intend to use what you’ll learn, with an emphasis on clarity over cleverness.

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