Scholar Jessica on Drama

McLean County Diversity Project   c/o Jeffrey A. Schwartz   PO Box 58   Downs, IL  61736

The Pantagraph

All content is ©Copyright 2010 McLean County Diversity Project

When two opportunities meet, good things
can happen.

That was the case when Jeff Schwartz told
me about veteran Scholar Chad Roberts
and his availability to work on an
independent project.

As it turned out, I was just starting some serious work on a series of stories related to Illinois’ Concealed Carry of Weapons proposal. Chad spent several weeks helping me put together research on the issue and came along for an interview at Smiley’s Gun Shop in Bloomington where we talked with owner Dan Smiley and a customer who stopped by to pick out her dream hand gun - a pink revolver.

Chad located survey results from the Pew Research Center on how different groups feel about protecting gun rights and gun control. He also did some pretty sophisticated charting of murder rates and points from the Brady Scorecard rankings.

The data Chad gathered from the Violence Policy Center let readers know how many people have been killed since 2007 by people who have been given concealed carry permits for their guns. That number is 385.

The final product was published January 22nd in The Pantagraph.

The assistance from the McLean County Diversity Project scholar helped me to focus on the people I needed to talk to and start writing the stories much earlier than I would have without Chad’s help.

I should note that this is the third time The Pantagraph has teamed up with the McLean County Diversity Project.

In the past, I have worked with scholars on a series that explored how LGBT students are treated at school and a second project during Mental Health Awareness month produced educational materials on mental illness.

As a journalist, I appreciate the willingness of the McLean County Diversity Project scholars to roll up their sleeves and dive into a story.

We all learn something in the process.

- Edith Brady-Lunny
Courts and Legal Affairs Reporter
The Pantagraph