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Basic police reporting


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Andrew Chavez outlines the basics of police reporting during this presentation from the Covering Texas Courts workshop presented by the Texas Center for Community Journalism in May 2011.

Andrew Chavez outlines the basics of police reporting during this presentation from the Covering Texas Courts workshop presented by the Texas Center for Community Journalism in May 2011.

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  • 1. Covering the cop shop
    Andrew Chavez
  • 2. Three key steps of crime reporting
    Story generation
    Knowing that a story exists or
    Getting the facts as soon as possible
    Properly developing a story
    Staying on top of a story
    Finding all angles
    Providing a resolution to the storyline
  • 3. Story generation
    The most important step
  • 4. Where stories come from
  • 5. Generating stories
    Beat reporting
    Good police reporting is about running traps
  • 6. Generating stories
    Rumors / Tips
    Can generate first stories and folos (case developments, settlements, etc.)
    Easiest way to get stories
    Least reliable method
    Some stories will only happen this way
    Getting more tips
    Be willing to entertain tipsters
    Keep contact information visible in all locations (even on every page of site)
    Read comments on stories
  • 7. Generating stories
    High payoff with little effort
    Anyone can listen to it (not just reporters)
    Not quotable, but can lead to good info
    Great way to get visuals
    Getting more from the scanner
    Use a handheld and take it to scenes with you
    Get to know the codes (many are available online)
  • 8. Generating stories
    Beat reporting
    How do you define beat reporting?
  • 9. Generating stories
    Beat reporting
    Building relationships with sources
    Staying on top of stories (75/25)
    Being the person who runs the traps
    Establishing yourself as the in-house expert
    Cover all angles of the beat while others sometime take low-hanging fruit
    The police reporter isn’t the person who writes the crime stories
  • 10. Build relationships
    Have a presence
    Cultivate sources before you need them
    Throw them some fluff
    Keep a dialogue open
    Don’t let bad habits persist
    Develop a phonefile
  • 11. Set multiple traps
    Check-in calls
    Use your whole staff
    Don’t forget fire and EMS (they’re at the big stuff, too)
  • 12. Reporting
    Getting the info you need
  • 13. The tools
    • Required by federal law on federally-funded roads (interstates, state and county roads)
    • 14. Available from NNA for $15
    • 15. Handheld is ideal
    • 16. Find the frequencies online
    • 17. Check the iPhone/Web apps
    • 18. Big pad is great for sketching
    • 19. Small one best for back pocket
  • The tools
    • Instantly duplicate important source documents
    • 20. Leave with photos, videos
    • 21. Audio, video recorder
    • 22. Camera
    • 23. Mobile address book
    • 24. Inconspicuous
  • Be precise
    Focus on the 5Ws
    Establish a timeline
    Don’t “write around it” – admit what you don’t know
    Ditch the jargon
  • 25. CYA
    Attribute, attribute, attribute
    Get the documents, recordings, videos …
    Verify accounts (try a timeline or sketch)
    Be a detective and a defense attorney
    Save contact info for your sources
    Consult the AP Stylebook
  • 26. Get out
    Reach out to the accused
    Talk to the families
    Visit the crime scene
    Find witnesses
    … You owe it to them
  • 27. Following up
  • 28. Your sources
  • 29. Follow through
    It doesn’t end at the arrest
    Be consistent about your treatments – headlines, page position, etc.
    Keep case files
    Run traps
    Keep a calendar and use others’ calendars
    Check on court dates, scheduled events in advance
  • 30. Follow through
  • 31. Some resources
  • 32. Some resources
    Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma
    Covering Crime and Justice: A guide for journalists
    Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas
  • 33. Q&A Time