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    Video Journalist Shawn Cotton Explores The World Of Gangs

    The world of reporting can be very dangerous, especially in Chicago. Shawn Cotton knows that from his personal encounters.

    The world of entertainment is one thing, but getting in the world of gangs is completely different. That’s what a journalist by the name of Shawn Cotton experienced. The 28-year-old went from cleaning refrigerators at big-box stores for $7-an-hour to video journalism. In particular the journalist interviews street gangs, and associates in high crime level areas. In return, the interviews are on youtube channels.

    Loss Of Zack Stoner

    The job has become more and more popular over the years, as it is an outlet for local news that is overlooked by mainstream media. Furthermore, Cotton’s friend Zack Stoner calls it “hood CNN“, before he was killed in a drive-by in Chi-town last year. Zack was considered a pioneer for the interviews and work he did previously surrounding the world of gangs. So much to the point where Shawn admits that he thinks about getting shot also.

    Despite the success, it can be a dangerous field for anyone. Cotton’s subscribers dictate where he should travel to, and gangs he should interview. One thing that is for certain is that you’ll always see guns, cash, and gang signs.  Some people see the world of interviewing gangs as glorying gang life and evokes violence.

    “If you are making gangs look cool, you’re recruiting more people to join gangs,” says Mike Knox, a former Houston gang-unit police officer.

    Above all, some people feel as though it is a necessary part of storytelling when it comes to the urban community. Many times the media decides to overlook stories of corruption, and street wars. Cotton and other video journalists like him go to extents others won’t go.

    “What Zack provided was a platform where (those on the streets thought), ‘I can be myself, I can cuss, I can tell you how I feel … and it ain’t gonna be censored,'” says Rodney Phillips, an ex-gang member who works for Chicago anti-violence groups. “He was showing the unadulterated truth.”

    Is The Money Worth The Risk?

    Shawn Cotton has a strong following that allows him to do some dangerous work. His youtube channel has over 400,000 subscribers and over a million monthly views. His traffic allows him to collect over $15,000 a month. Some may think that it’s a nice amount of cash, but his life is always in danger. For instance, he receives death threats especially going in unknown territory. We’ve seen a rise in shootings across the nation including Parkland shooting, where the commission agrees that teachers should be armed. At some point, the news has to be able to dig deeper into the world of gangs.

    Is $15K a month worth almost dying? Will Shawn Cotton ever make it to the mainstream of News?


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