Rather than simply reporting on the increase in youth crime, WXMI Grand Rapids, Mich., is leading an initiative, A Path Forward, that seeks to connect families with crucial resources, address obstacles, celebrate successes and create lasting change.
WXMI, Scripps’ Fox affiliate in Grand Rapids, Mich., is taking a proactive approach to rising youth crime in West Michigan.
Rather than simply reporting on the increase in youth crime, WXMI Fox 17 is leading an initiative, A Path Forward, that seeks to connect families with crucial resources, address obstacles, celebrate successes and create lasting change.
WXMI began working on A Path Forward in July 2022. First, it met with more than 60 community members representing law enforcement, community organizations and business owners to hear their perspectives on youth crime in the community.
“We believe in the power of collaboration and the potential for positive change,” says Kim Krause, WXMI’s general manager. “With A Path Forward we are committed to working hand-in-hand with our community, law enforcement, businesses, and nonprofits to create a brighter future for our young people. By utilizing our platform, we can make a significant and lasting impact on youth crime and contribute to building a safer and more prosperous community for all.”
Following those initial meetings, a Community Advisory Board was created with more than 16 members.
Since its formation, this advisory board has met three times, discussing rising youth crime in West Michigan and how the community can come together to address it.
In response to a noticeable surge in stories related to youth crime, the team at WXMI has undergone a transformative shift in attitude, one determined to address underlying issues.
As members of the community, the staff has recognized the pressing need to go beyond traditional reporting, asking themselves a crucial question: “What can we do about this?”
“As a journalist, it is crucial for us to recognize the urgent need for change in how we report on crime, particularly when it involves youth,” says Dan Boers, WXMI’s news director. “We must acknowledge that our traditional approach may unintentionally worsen the problem. Through our community advisory board meetings, we have gained valuable insights and knowledge. It’s clear that we have a long journey ahead, but we are unwavering in our commitment to being part of the solution.”
WXMI has met with community organizations, business leaders and law enforcement to hear their perspectives and to map out a plan to have a meaningful impact on the rise of youth crimes in their communities.