Shahid Abdul-Karim of the New Haven Register wins the 2014 Special Contribution DFMie for leading a community conversation about violence.
The nomination explains:
The New Haven Register is honored to nominate Community Engagement Editor Shahid Abdul Karim for the 2013 DFMie for Special Contribution for his work addressing the violence in New Haven that left 20 people dead in one year.
Through a series of stories about suffering and trauma many city families endured, Abdul-Karim was able to draw the attention of the U.S. Congress to violence in New Haven and more specifically to the slayings of so many young people of color.
Further, it was the trust Abdul-Karim developed in the scarred and grieving community that led to the chance to tell these stories.
Further, Abdul-Karim helped the community explore the root causes of violence, such as through a round-table discussion on “Psycho-emotional roots of violence.”
Consider then, how much that trust he built meant for Celeste and Gregory Fulcher, whose daughter was gunned down while she was at a nightclub with her friends on a night that she and five others were shot. The Fulchers, who spoke very little publicly on Erika’s death, revealed to Abdul-Karim, in this story “Race Dimmed Outrage,” their feelings of being left out of the American dream when they’ve played by American rules, including lack of congressional attention to the death of young black people.
This story, however, prompted change. Within a day, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal was at the Fulchers’ house. Days later, Erika’s story came to the floor of the U.S. Senate, where Blumenthal made a call for renewed efforts to tighten judicial and gun laws. Blumenthal also has addressed New Haven violence in Senate speeches since that day.
The work on addressing deadly violence in New Haven continues into 2014 and Blumnethal and U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy in early February held a community round table on violence here.
Shahid Abdul Karim of the New Haven Register created a strong connection with a troubled and grieving community, building trust with individuals so that a broader story could be told more deeply. HIs role, Community Engagement Editor, turns out to be not just a job title, but an apt description what he has been able to do in New Haven — where violence and death have so deeply affected the population, especially people of color. The outreach has helped the quality of the journalism and it has also helped members of a besieged community feel that their voices are being heard.
About Shahid Abdul-Karim
Abdul-Karim joined the New Haven Register in June 2012 and distinguished himself as a member of the city reporting staff.
Last February he was promoted to community engagement editor and in that role, he has focused on involving the community at every step of the process of local journalism, including outreach and partnerships with community organizations and readers.
He is a 2006 graduate of Springfield (Mass.) College with a bachelor’s degree in human services. Since 1999, he has been a staff reporter for the Muslim Journal and in 2009 was selected to its board of directors.
Other finalists for special contribution were Tang Lor of the Chico Enterprise Record and Lisa Carricaburu of the Salt Lake Tribune.