2018 Online Commentary finalist

Seven Steps to Save 27,000 Lives

About the Project

In the wake of the mass shooting at Parkland high school and days ahead of a national march for better gun laws, The Boston Globe published an ambitious interactive editorial offering a way forward on one of the nation’s most contentious issues.

The editorial, “Seven steps to save 27,000 lives,” called for states to adopt seven common sense gun laws, already on the books in Massachusetts, that could help lower the gun death rate in every state. Match Massachusetts’ low gun death rate and 27,000 American lives could be saved every year.

We tailored the experience to the individual reader. Using geotagged IP addresses, the site presented readers with unique data for their state — the gun death rate, the state’s gun safety rank, and how many of the seven steps were already in place in their location. Preloaded, geotagged calls to action allowed readers to tweet at or call their state representatives. By localizing a national epidemic for any reader, the editorial was both a blueprint for change and a call to action for residents of each state to push their lawmakers to support the seven steps that would save lives.

The response was enormous. Shared widely on social media and across national television, the editorial also appeared at the rally days later in the form of signs and other nods to the project. The video was viewed 634,000 times. A collaboration with The Coral Project on comments allowed for curated, thoughtful responses on a topic that so often descends into vitriol.

With “Seven steps to save 27,000 lives,” the Globe went beyond the typical hand-wringing and offered a real solution that could curb gun violence while still respecting the Second Amendment. With any luck, we convinced some citizens that the helplessness that seems to accompany every mass shooting isn’t permanent.