News & Documentary Emmy Awards New Approaches - Documentaries

New Approaches Emmy Award



Entry Category: 27 - New Approaches: Documentaries
Title of Webcast/Multimedia Project: Shift on
Title of Story or Report: Ricochet: Life in a city under siege from guns
Running Time: 51:46
Production Company: MSNBC Originals /
Date content was originally made available for viewing (must be 2014): 9/22/2014
Original URL (if applicable):

It is our great pleasure to recommend the original video series Ricochet: Life in a City Under Siege from Guns for the News and Documentary Emmy Awards. It is a sensitive and thoughtful look at the topic of gun violence in the city of Chicago and across the nation.

When we first proposed the idea of a video series to video journalist Craig Duff, we expected a solid production, but what he and fellow reporter Stephen Franklin crafted is not only incredibly well reported and produced, it's transformative. Craig and Steve's new approach bucked the conventional wisdom that the optimal length for Web video is only two minutes. Instead they made a high-quality digital documentary series that aired in five parts for a deeper dive into this important issue. premiered the doc as part of the launch of its digital-only, streaming video channel Shift. As opposed to other streaming channels that are only talk, Shift mixes up studio-based conversation with field-produced segments and superior-quality documentaries, which is in and of itself a new approach to live streaming news channels.

"Ricochet" portrays victims and survivors of trauma with sensitivity and insight by showing the very real effects -- physical and emotional -- that gun violence has on communities, families and young people caught up in ways of the streets.

The series informed users and viewers of how individuals react to and cope with emotional trauma via first-hand accounts of people in the line of fire. In the series, we meet two high school teachers who are physically paralyzed from gunshots; we meet parents of children killed by guns who are seeking positive ways to channel their grief for the good of their communities; we meet young men who explain how guns are part of their lives, making them rarely feel safe in their own neighborhoods; and we are in the trauma unit and hospital room where a young man talks about his scrape with death as one of hundreds shot over the summer in Chicago.

From the very beginning Craig and Steve were determined to not fall into the sensationalism that infects most television/video coverage of the subject. There is not one scene of a police line at the scene of a murder in the series. Every person in the program is given time to speak his/her mind and from the heart, without a narrator heightening his or her emotional pain for dramatic effect. And though there is music in the stories, it is never maudlin or overwrought. Instead, it offers a rhythm and heartbeat to the real events unfolding on screen.

The series does begin in the trauma unit, where a team of doctors treats two young men's wounds, but it doesn't dwell on the trauma. It swiftly moves to the causes and consequences of the violence that sent them to the ER. And by including voices from across the spectrum of expertise and diversity, Ricochet has an authenticity that few other treatments of this subject have offered. Using the voice of MSNBC reporter Trymaine Lee as narrator added to that authenticity.

What's phenomenal about this new approach is that two people reported, shot, produced and edited the entire well-crafted series without additional resources. It is true backpack journalism at its best.

We at are incredibly proud of this series. It ranks among the very best we have commissioned and produced. And we hope you agree that it is worthy of the honor you bestow on the very best of news and documentary programming.