Posts tagged breaking news
Posts tagged breaking news
I’ve never actually caught fire before, but ever since kindergarten I know exactly what to do if that should happen.
Stop, drop and roll, right?
I played off this wise advice for our newsroom in my mobile gladiator workshops.
After analyzing our breaking news successes, I realized teamwork and clear communication was KEY to how quickly and comprehensively we could report.
My goal was to equip our journalists with the essential apps — and confidence — to help save time and maximize the mobile tools at our fingertips.
What happens if you find yourself on the scene of breaking news, with adrenaline pumping and your mind racing? What should you do first?
I advise our journalists to …
SNAP: Capture the event in photos or video — You may lose the opportunity, depending on the news event.
CALL (or text)* your team leader or online editor to alert them to the news. Make sure someone else on staff knows what’s going on, so you can focus on reporting.
*A critical part of the training was taking the time to update phone contacts, which include an email that alerts a wide group of editors, along with an email address that allows you to automatically upload video to the Roanoke Times YouTube account.
ROLL: Quickly tweet your photo/video w/ a caption (going public ASAP), which the desk-bound editors can retweet on the main account and post on the website. Roll on with your reporting, relaying to editors primarily through Twitter or over the phone, whichever method you’re most comfortable with.
As I emphasized in our training, our mobile tools are incredibly powerful, allowing us to report faster than ever before. But our *brains* are the most important weapon we have — learning to quickly communicate and improvise as the news unfolds, using these tools wisely.
Finally found the helmet I wanted for my Breaking News to the Maximus: Mobile Gladiator Workshop. Can’t decide if I’ll keep it at my desk for inspiration … or if I’ll start a pass-along award in our newsroom. Should it be for kick-ass mobile reporting? Or excellent breaking news reporting? Or inspiring leadership in breaking news? Hmmmm.
Metro editor Brian Kelley had a great reminder in our first Breaking News to the Maximus: Mobile Gladiator Workshop:
Don’t forget to keep a phone charger in your car. Some apps can drain your battery in no time.
So that got me thinking … what else should you keep in your car for possible spot-news situations?
I asked the entire Roanoke Times newsroom to send their ideas, and I wasn’t disappointed …. turned out to be a very engaging (and entertaining) way to tap into the wealth of knowledge among my peers.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom to find out which journalist among us drives a car nicknamed “battle wagon” (pictured above) … it’s kind of insane.
—- Pencils … pens don’t work well in rain or bitter cold (and you never know when the ink might run out). (Suggested by Duncan Adams, Matt Chittum, Kathy Lu)
—- Extra notebooks (Miranda Beck, Jeff Sturgeon, Courtney Cutright)
—- Extra pens (Miranda Beck, Jeff Sturgeon)
—- Emergency shoes / boots / clothes (Kathy Lu: “I used to always carry emergency clothes in the trunk (shoes that can get muddy; shirts I didn’t care about) in case I had to get messy. Of course, the problem is that these clothes eventually looked really outdated b/c they’d been there so long.) Miranda Beck carries pants, socks and hiking shoes.
—- Safety vest (From Cathy Benson: My kids gave me a yellow vest for Christmas that I wore for the first time at the school bus accident. They even wrote “Press” on it.)
—- Flashlight (Ellen Moseley)
—- Virginia map (Ellen Moseley: “GPS isn’t always going to work … we have roads up in Alleghany Co. that say, ‘not found,’).
—- Printout of the newsroom phone list (in case you don’t have it accessible on your phone .. ahem, gladiators! … or your cellphone dies). (Kathy Lu)
—- The LAW. A copy of the Virginia law that exempts news personnel from the physical restrictions of police lines and barricades. http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+coh+15.2-1714+700656 and this, too: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-photographers (Jeff Sturgeon)
—- Sunscreen ( Jeff Sturgeon)
—- Deodorant (“I’ve learned that lesson more than a few times, especially when it’s summertime and I have to get in and out of the car a bunch of times. People who don’t like reporters really don’t like smelly reporters,” writes Miranda Beck).
—- Binoculars (Jeff Sturgeon)
—- “A snack. Always a snack.” (Evelyn Rupert)
—- Bottles of water (Miranda Beck)
—- Toilet paper (for allergies, too) (Miranda Beck)
—- Voice recorder (Mike Shaw)
—- Point-and-shoot camera (Mike Shaw)
—- SD card (Miranda Beck)
But who is the most prepared?
Our very first Mobile Gladiator Award must go to New River Valley photo intern Daniel Lin, who drives a Chevy Malibu equipped for just about anything.
At the Collegiate Times, my car became known as the “battle-wagon” due to its perhaps over-the-top preparedness for breaking news.
A mental inventory of the basics is as follows:
• 2 police scanners, one left in the car as a base scanner, connected to an external antenna, the other is my portable.
• Car GPS, for obvious reasons.
• Handheld GPS, for when I leave the car in a totally unfamiliar area or a tromp in the woods becomes necessary.
• Rain jacket (hard to hold an umbrella when you’re taking photos and jotting notes)
• Rain pants (because in heavy rain, the water coming off the jacket has to go somewhere, and there’s this pesky thing called gravity)
• Rite-in-the-rain notebook and Fisher space pen (I keep my mileage on it, and also is idiot-proofing if I forget my primary notebook)
• My old voice recorder, w/extra batteries (more idiot-proofing)
• Trauma kit permanently attached to my backpack (added after December 8th at Tech when I realized that had things gone differently, I could have easily been in the line of fire)
• Basic first aid kit, for more normal cuts and scratches.
• 3 MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat). Working with the Tech Army ROTC has taught me how to tolerate shelf-stable rations. Indispensable when in the field longer than expected.
• Some granola bars and other “car snacks” for when an Army ration is overkill.
• Case of bottled water.
• Two highway vests with “PRESS” on them. I originally had one, but when I realized reporters sometimes hop in my car, it’s handy to have two.
• Hard hat (although I’m not sure why, just seems like a popular news vehicle item and I had one laying around)
• Power inverter for my cigarette outlets (and I have a car cord for my computer anyway)
• A basic change of clothes, a jacket, and two extra pairs of socks. I’ll often leave my boots in the trunk as well in case trekking through the woods becomes required.
• A phone charger (usually for other people’s phones, my dumbphone has a 4-day functional battery life)
• Extra flashlight w/ extra batteries (500 lumens, can throw a beam about 125m)
• Bank of AA and AAA batteries.
• I keep my camera beltpack in my trunk, just in case I feel it’s necessary to move my stuff into in from my day-to-day bag.
• In the winter, a winter weather kit with blankets, more food, etc. Because I might get sent out to cover bad weather, I could very easily become stuck in it too. Also not a bad thing to have in general
• Basic car kit with jumper cables, tow ropes, some extra oil, rags, etc.
• $100 cash in $5 bills stashed away. You never know when you might need it.
I think that should just about cover most everything. I do what I can to pack my car for two, because inevitably for breaking news I’m going to end up hauling a reporter around as well.
Tom Carter, a longtime copy editor, was reminded of Richard Harding Davis’ “A War Correspondent’s Kit,” which you can find here:
Sent this email to our newsroom today to help promote my upcoming mobile breaking news workshop …
So the best way to describe my three-year progression from a gentle features soul editing Inside Out (where most everything was fun and well-planned) to boldly embracing the chaos of breaking news is best summed up here …
Why “Gladiator”? Because that brutal chariot battle scene has stuck with me for years.
Right before Russell and his poor, fellow gladiators are thrown into the ring for sure death, he mutters:
“Whatever comes out of these gates, we’ve got a better chance of survival if we work together. … If we stay together, we survive.”
That couldn’t be more true during a breaking news event, which can be just as scary and unpredictable as the gladiator ring …. but hopefully less bloody.
Team work, quick strategy, clear communication … and realizing that it’s going to be a messy, imperfect process make all the difference.
Would you like help transforming from Bambi to kick-ass Gladiator?
Please plan on attending my mobile breaking news workshop this Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the News Conference Room, where I’ll share some recent examples of our Gladiator teamwork awesomeness … along with some essential apps and shortcuts to report from your phone. I’m calling it a workshop because I want it to be hands-on … so bring your phone!
This training is so important that I’ll be scheduling additional workshops throughout the summer if you can’t make it Tuesday.
BTW, you can watch that Gladiator scene here, but you’ve been warned … it’s pretty gory.
More of us are falling in love with our iPhones and Droids. And we know they are changing news appetites.
How are we serving readers who expect news to come to them —- and quickly? And how do we compare with our TV competitors?
No matter what your role or beat, I’d urge you to stay on top of our »> e-mail »> text »> Twitter »> efforts — and see what this growing segment of our audience sees.
If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to sign up for Roanoke Times breaking news (and daily morning) e-mails at this link here (Note: I registered by personal gmail account, so I can get alerts on my phone at all times)
Sign up for our (infrequent) text messages here
I haven’t looked into radio or other forms of media, but maybe I should? Any suggestions?