Two years ago today, 13 people were shot in Cornell Square Park. Violence in Chicago before and after that date has been unrelenting.
One year ago today, I announced the launch of CrimeIsDown.com. The mission of the website was to (1) “give people the raw, unfiltered picture of crime in Chicago” and (2) provide avenues for those motivated to help stop the violence to do so, via linking to various community organizations.
Today, though CrimeIsDown.com continues to serve dozens of scanner listeners with a variety of tools, it is far from achieving the original mission. My heart and mind are no longer aligned as they once were.
This year-long journey has made me incredibly proud of the work first responders do, as well as the audience who seeks out the dreadful news, but incredibly disappointed upon listening to violence occur daily. Unlike the consistent anguish and horror that those impacted by violence experience, my feelings for covering it have fluctuated ever since I started.
The Chicago scanner community is amazing and is still my go-to source of news whenever I hear sirens or see flashing lights. I have become a part of that community, accumulating over a thousand followers since I first started tweeting. There is a strong demand for local breaking news, fulfilled in seconds by the power of Twitter’s platform. And yet, I cannot meet that demand anymore.
Originally I was enthusiastic about gaining followers and earning favorites/retweets. I could inform a potentially infinite audience about what is happening this very second in their city - what an amazing power. However the desire to build an audience and achieve fame grew more powerful than the desire to be successful and do the job well.
Which leads us to today.
After a few weeks of radio silence to think about what my 140 characters really mean, I have come to the conclusion that I do not want to earn “Internet points” for human suffering. Rather I want to focus my energies on other pursuits, some of which may address one of the problems catalyzing violence. I already am passionate about improving education, something I will continue to do with my work at Packback and Clarify. Now that I can reallocate a good portion of time, there are other ideas I am excited to explore.
I’m still young and don’t have a clear plan of the months and years to come, but I know that whatever I do will get me closer to my mission of enlightening the world.
To my current followers, a FAQ:
“Will you still be tweeting breaking news [from the scanner]?”
No, with some exceptions. I still look forward to covering some special events, such as the Air and Water Show, as well as major incidents requiring a significant multi-agency response. I will also cover various breaking news if I am able to travel to the scene and experience it myself.
“If you won’t be tweeting, who else should we follow?”
Everyone on the #CrimeIsDown list deserves a follow. They do great work and you can stay informed 24/7 by subscribing to the list. I will continue to update it with new members as long as more people join the scanner community on Twitter.
“What will happen to CrimeIsDown.com?”
I intend to keep it around and continue making updates as I am able. The Twitter bot will continue tweeting/retweeting. You can continue to email me with feedback and I will reply when able.
“What if my question wasn’t answered?”
Reply to the tweet about this post and I can try to answer it.