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What KCUR heard over months of listening to Kansas City talk about guns

Members of KCUR's Community Engagement team, Zach Perez (left), Ron Jones, and Laura Ziegler (right), sit in the Up To Date studio while discussing their work.
Julie Denesha
Members of KCUR's Community Engagement team, Zach Perez (left), Ron Jones (center), and Laura Ziegler (right), discuss their coverage of gun culture and gun violence in the Kansas City metro.

At community listening sessions and in stories about the city's violence problem, we gained some new perspectives on a polarizing and seemingly intractable problem.

Regulation of firearms is the third most divisive policy issue in the United States, according to data collected by the Pew Research Center.

As part of a months-long initiative, reporters, producers and editors at KCUR hosted a series of community listening sessions and interviews that examined how the polarized debate over guns has affected the search for solutions to rising rates of gun violence in the Kansas City metro.

“We are so polarized politically and culturally,” explained KCUR’s community engagement editor Laura Ziegler. “But (we found) the opportunity to sit in a room with (community members), and let them tell us their thoughts about how we can address this problem… that went a long way.”

Ziegler appeared alongside community engagement producer, Zach Perez, and Community Engagement Director and Program Director, Ron Jones, during a special broadcast of KCUR’s Up To Date.

The stories from the initiative covered issues such as the rate of non-fatal shootings, the effects of gun violence on healthcare workers, and the effectiveness of gun regulation.

The team discussed insights they learned from the outreach, including the need to broaden the focus of the debate from solely gun control to examining the systemic causes of gun violence, and challenging the stereotypes often attached to voices on either side of the debate.

“Asking these big, broad questions that people maybe don’t think about in their day to day lives,” Perez said, “I think when you get people together and (talk about them), they see the difference of opinion within their own camp. That’s where people are exposed to that nuance.”

Share you thoughts with KCUR

What are we missing in our coverage about gun culture and gun violence in the Kansas City metro? Are you interested in finding out more about KCUR's community engagement efforts?

You can reach out to Laura Ziegler and Zach Perez, or message KCUR's texting service at (816) 601-4777 to share your thoughts and learn more.

Have questions or show ideas? Text with Up To Date!

Sign up for texts from the Up To Date team to suggest show ideas and weigh in on important issues facing Kansas City. Text UTD to 816-601-4777 to join the conversation. Get more information here.

Stay Connected
When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions.
As KCUR’s Community Engagement Producer, I help welcome our audiences into the newsroom, and bring our journalism out into the communities we serve. Many people feel overlooked or misperceived by the media, and KCUR needs to do everything we can to cover and empower the diverse communities that make up the Kansas City metro — especially the ones who don’t know us in the first place. My work takes the form of reporting stories, holding community events, and bringing what I’ve learned back to Up To Date and the rest of KCUR.

What should KCUR be talking about? Who should we be talking to? Let me know. You can email me at zjperez@kcur.org or message me on Twitter at @zach_pepez.

Ron Jones returned to KCUR in September, 2013 as Director of Community Engagement. He is now the program director. You can reach him at ron@kcur.org.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and award-winning podcasts.
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