This is not the article I set out to write.
To be fair I’ve only once written a feature piece where the finished product was exactly what I planned on writing and that was “The Saga of Edgewater Medical Center.” (I set out to write an article about what led to EMC’s closure and why there hasn’t been any redevelopment and that’s exactly what I wrote.) Any good journalist should find themselves asking more questions as they work on an article and as a result I find that feature pieces tend to take a different direction than I had in mind.
I moved to Milwaukee in May and I was aware of the number of homicides spiking in 2013 and found myself asking a lot of questions. Why wasn’t that getting the attention Chicago’s murders were getting? (Yes, my mind went there. I do a lot of comparisons to Chicago, both mentally and out loud.) Why did it seem like there wasn’t much being done about people being killed when the city was focusing on getting a new stadium for a team whose 2013-14 record was 15-67?
I set out to write an article about the shootings in Milwaukee and what could be done to help reduce the number of shootings. What I ended up learning was all of the work being done already to prevent violence in Milwaukee and as a result I ended up writing a much more optimistic article than I thought I would.
Often the news cycle about shootings is dominated by someone, usually a politician, saying something like “WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE DO SOMETHING?!”
But that’s usually where the dialogue ends. Maybe you have a friend who posts something on Facebook about the latest rash of shootings where you live and says something with outrage but that’s all that happens. And sometimes when there’s a shooting people fail to notice it. Sometimes the attitude is, “That’s happening in a neighborhood I don’t live in and it doesn’t affect me. Why should I care?”
Here are the people who are doing things. There are churches who are doing things as simple as meeting the basic needs of the homeless in Milwaukee, groups that are working to improve neighborhoods which then leads to reducing violence, a mayor who is open to doing anything to try to ensure fewer people are killed in his city every year.
It’s a story that needed to be told and I believe my role as a journalist is to find the stories not being told and tell them.
So let’s look to the future, Milwaukee, and hope for better things.