I recently had the opportunity to work with Contently and StudioAtGawker on a long-form investigative story about gun trafficking on the so-called Iron Pipeline, a stretch of Interstate 95 that connects a number of major east coast cities. The reporting work was in conjunction with the launch of Contently Dot Org, a not-for-profit platform in support of investigative journalism.
For two months our team – editor Brad Hamilton, data journalist Sam Petulla, and Contently’s Sam Slaughter – conducted research, interviewed sources and experts, and crafted a story that attempts to humanize the realities of gun trafficking. I was the primary writer and reporter.
Tiana never saw herself as a killer.
The daughter of a prostitute, she grew up in an inner city housing project surrounded by crack cocaine, day-time shootings and illicit money making. Hustling was in her family’s blood. Her grandmother ran an after-hours booze business from their apartment, selling bottles of beer and pints of liquor until three in the morning.
For Tiana, who was determined not to follow her mother into the sex trade, guns became the hustle.
Buying weapons for the men in her life—a practice that police call straw purchasing—was easy money.
“I hung out a lot with guys because I didn’t figure that women could teach me anything,” she told me. “Guys taught me … to deal with the street. And part of that was guns.”
Read the full story.
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