With tensions heating up all over the world again, it is a good time to review how to write suspect descriptions. This issue came up recently on Twitter and it seemed some were confused on when to mention race and what elements of a description were most important. So let’s review. Suspect Description Must Do’s List SPECIFICS Include image if possible Avoid broad statements Now this list may seem a bit redundant but bear with me. The single most important rule when writing suspect descriptions is to be extremely specific. Otherwise it can appear that you are profiling. So to be clear, you cannot say “Police tell us the suspect […]

Journalists Experience PTSD, Too

Reporting Comments Off on Journalists Experience PTSD, Too
Nov 152015

We are the observers. We bear witness to society’s worst outcomes: dead bodies, mangled cars, weeping family members. The scale may be smaller than the horrific scenes of war American service members witness overseas. Yet journalists covering local tragedies are at risk of developing PTSD, too. I would submit photojournalists are particularly at-risk because they get sent out on everything. And as the years go by, all that trauma witnessing can literally affect our brain’s sense of well-being. Which reminds me, this is a brain issue. Not a “toughness” issue. Not a “you’ve lost your objectivity” issue. You have no need to feel guilty. Unfortunately, news executives do a poor […]

Can't See It? Then Tweet It!

Know Your Newsroom, Reporting, Social Awareness Comments Off on Can’t See It? Then Tweet It!
Oct 212015

By now you’ve probably heard about the big story this week. It was an embarrassing gaffe during a live shot about the Michigan and Michigan State football game. It was a game decided on the final play. The on-scene reporter went TV and said the wrong team won. The anchor then had to correct the mistake when the reporter tossed back to the studio. In this FTVLIVE article the sports anchor is quoted as writing on Facebook that “we tried bringing the most up to date stats as we could as we were going live at the exact moment everything was happening. Had two scripts written and ready to go and […]

Hidden References: Why You Must Expand Your List

Job Interviewing, Picking A Shop Comments Off on Hidden References: Why You Must Expand Your List
Sep 242015

Everyone knows that in a lot of ways this is a small business. But many journalists today think that likely means you just need a few peers and a boss, maybe two, to root for you or serve as references. This is simply not true. What “this is a small business” really means is there is a high probability if you decide to chew out that producer who you thought was clueless, or cuss out the “snooty” anchor or just walk out because you have a new job and are sick of these (insert expletive); that will be the person the hiring manager for your dream job calls because they […]

When to add “breaking” information into a newscast.

Know Your Newsroom, Producing, Writing Help Comments Off on When to add “breaking” information into a newscast.
Sep 172015

Let’s face it, journalists are airing and/or publishing more mistakes than they used to. So it is a good time to reiterate some tried and true guidelines to determine when information is safe to tell the world. Breaking News Guidelines Two sources minimum have confirmed the information You know the names or groups confirming the fact(s) Another journalist looked over your information Veteran journalists are looking at this list and rolling their eyes. Yes, I know, the old standard was really three sources. In this day and age of “WE MUST BE FIRST” three is not always going to happen. Hell, I think it’s questionable if some news organizations actually […]

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