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Death of 'Hood CNN' Pioneer Exposes Gangland Reporting Risks

Creative Commons/Movieing Memories

CHICAGO - The killing of a pioneer in a new genre of news in which videographers interview street gangs and rappers in high-crime areas has unnerved other gangland reporters nationwide.

The drive-by shooting of Zack Stoner last year in Chicago has exposed an ominous side to the line of newsgathering that Stoner liked to call "hood CNN." Gun violence is a recurring theme.

Gangland reporters around the country considered Stoner, nicknamed ZackTV, a mentor. His still-unsolved slaying showed how vulnerable these reporters are.

After Stoner's death, videographer Shawn Cotton began carrying a gun when going into gang territory. Cotton, who travels around the country but considers Texas home, also wears a bulletproof vest now.

Critics say the gangland reporters' YouTube channels glorify gangs. But the reporters also risk their lives to provide a voice for communities routinely ignored by mainstream media.


The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.