College Media: Covering the Big Story
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College Media: Covering the Big Story



A presentation at the College Media Association's Summer Workshop 2014 on covering natural disasters, major crimes, campus scandals and other breaking news stories.

A presentation at the College Media Association's Summer Workshop 2014 on covering natural disasters, major crimes, campus scandals and other breaking news stories.



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College Media: Covering the Big Story College Media: Covering the Big Story Presentation Transcript

  • Preparing for the Big Story Rachele Kanigel San Francisco State University CMA Summer Leadership Workshop July 31, 2014
  • Types of Big Stories Natural disasters -- hurricane, earthquake, fire, tornado, flood Man-made disasters – terrorist act, major accident, serious crime Major campus stories – a high- ranking official steps down, scandal, suicide, disease outbreak
  • Collegiate Times Virginia Tech
  • The Daily Toreador Texas Tech University
  • The Daily Collegian Penn State University
  • Before the event Assemble a staff contact list Develop a disaster plan Create a breaking news culture Create cooperative arrangements with other campus media Train for the big story
  • As the news breaks Editors should:  Assemble a team  Staff the newsroom  Assign a rewrite person  Keep your readers in mind  Think visually
  • Report the news as it unfolds  Post alerts on Facebook, Twitter and your website as soon as you know something  Update website frequently  Post photos on Instagram  Stream video of events (press conferences, vigils, memorial events)
  • Use social media as a reporting tool  Seek out sources on Facebook and Twitter  Connect with experts on LinkedIn  Seek photos on Flickr  Put social media posts into context; confirm whenever possible
  • Plan a package  Think beyond a single story – break information into sidebars and infoboxes  If there’s a strong visual element, use multiple photos – in print, online or both  Use maps, timelines and other informational graphics to tell the story  Create a logo for the package  Include an index to direct readers
  • The Exponent Purdue University
  • The Daily Orange Syracuse University
  • Use interactive maps  Show the effects of a storm, earthquake, fire or other natural disaster on a campus or community  Include photographs in the map  Show the path of a gunman or other threat to the community  Plot emergency shelters, first-aid centers, open stores and other services for victims
  • Use interactive features  Give the community discussion boards or other online vehicles to share information and to vent  Set up memorial sites for people who have died  Create discussion topics on related issues -- Should gun laws be changed? Did the campus deal with the traumatic event responsibly?  Allow people to share their experiences -- where were you when the big one hit?
  • Mobile formats Create news podcasts for people who don’t have consistent access to computers and/or electricity Establish a mobile alert system Think about how to link to users’ cell phones and iPods
  • Serving your communtiy  Think about the problems this trauma has created and how technology can help solve them.  What voids can your news organization fill?  What useful information can you collect and share?  How can you use new media to help people connect?  Think about packaging your coverage so readers have a one-stop shop for information.
  • Following up  Assess your coverage  Brainstorm  Editorialize  Make space for letters  Ask why  Don’t drop the ball
  • Take care of your staff  Get help from campus counseling services  Let students talk through their feelings of covering a challenging stories  Use the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma resources at