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Plans News Managers Hope They Won't Need To Use

Jun 25, 2016
Jesse Wright/West Virginia Public Broascasting

Imagine... 

It started out like any other day at K-Small, a 5000 watt member station in Smallville, America. It was a mellow morning — the national network show running with some local inserts until 10 a.m. At the 9 a.m. news meeting there were three top stories: a tornado watch, a controversial art exhibit called “Religion Sucks,” and a press release from Smallville State College saying that last month’s test of the campus-wide emergency alert system went well.

The quiet before the storm.

Craig LeMoult

It’s been a month since a shooter killed 20 schoolchildren, 6 school staff, his mother and himself in Newtown, Connecticut. I coordinated WSHU Public Radio coverage of the shootings and the aftermath.  Though we had covered our share of crises -- severe weather, industrial accidents -- this event touched us and challenged our 9-person newsroom in new ways.  I hope our experience can be helpful to other news directors.

Ten things I learned from covering the Newtown shootings:

In the coming days, journalists will have to provide clear-eyed context to help the nation come to terms with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Without question this incident will once again spark heated debates over gun-control and school safety.

Let’s step back to see what we need to know to cover those stories.

Read more from the Poynter Institute's Al Tompkins here.