Congratulations to David Cohen & Matt Writtle, The Evening Standard, Highly Commended for The Local Hero Award for Regional Digital Journalism 2019
Your ’Elevator Pitch’
The writer/photographer team of David Cohen and Matt Writtle have taken care to win the trust of key influencers in communities they report on, takings readers into unseen worlds.
Evening Standard journalist David Cohen’s investigation into serious youth violence (Violent London) and subsequent campaign (Save London Lives) is an example of how the story one local young man in Lambeth, Dianni Marriott, heaped pressure on the Mayor of London to change his youth violence policy. To achieve impact, David had to win the trust of Dianni’s youth worker, Hashi Mohammed, who introduced him to Dianni, and he had to win over Dianni. This took several months. For Dianni to go on the record using his real name and be photographed by Matt Writtle was a huge ask. Dianni’s story exemplified why a trauma-informed model for tackling youth violence is critical. It led the Mayor to perform a U-turn by creating a Violence Reduction Unit, based on the successful public health Glasgow model, a move he had rejected earlier. Following Dianni’s participation in articles, he suggested the Standard make a film with him in which he would open up about his life ‘on road’. The six-minute documentary, called PAGANS, produced in conjunction with Lush Film Fund, was a candid, cinematically-illustrated monologue from Dianni which revealed the humanity behind the stereotypical ‘hoodie’ image. Dianni exposed the effects of a life impacted by early trauma and revealed the emptiness of his gang-affected life. His participation in the film, which came at personal risk to himself, would not have been possible without the trust building efforts of David Cohen and Matt Writtle. Together, the printed words and film has led to change at the macro level of changing public policy and at the micro level of beginning to positively change Dianni’s life. Dianni has registered at college and is currently doing business studies. Our campaign attracted financial backers and has raised £1.6 million for grassroots charities tackling youth violence.
The Local Hero Award for Regional Digital Journalism 2019 supported by Google News Initiative