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Basic police reporting

Basic police reporting



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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    Basic police reporting Basic police reporting Presentation Transcript

    • Covering the cop shop
      Andrew Chavez
    • 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
    • Story generation
      The most important step
    • Where stories come from
    • Generating stories
      Beat reporting
      Good police reporting is about running traps
    • 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
    • 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)
    • Generating stories
      Beat reporting
      How do you define beat reporting?
    • 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
    • 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
    • Set multiple traps
      Check-in calls
      Use your whole staff
      Don’t forget fire and EMS (they’re at the big stuff, too)
    • Reporting
      Getting the info you need
    • The tools
      • Required by federal law on federally-funded roads (interstates, state and county roads)
      • Available from NNA for $15
      • Handheld is ideal
      • Find the frequencies online
      • Check the iPhone/Web apps
      • Big pad is great for sketching
      • Small one best for back pocket
    • The tools
      • Instantly duplicate important source documents
      • Leave with photos, videos
      • Audio, video recorder
      • Camera
      • Mobile address book
      • Inconspicuous
    • Be precise
      Focus on the 5Ws
      Establish a timeline
      Don’t “write around it” – admit what you don’t know
      Ditch the jargon
    • 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
    • Get out
      Reach out to the accused
      Talk to the families
      Visit the crime scene
      Find witnesses
      … You owe it to them
    • Following up
    • Your sources
    • 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
    • Follow through
    • Some resources
    • Some resources
      Dart Center for Journalism & Traumahttp://dartcenter.org/
      Covering Crime and Justice: A guide for journalistshttp://www.justicejournalism.org/crimeguide/
      Freedom of Information Foundation of Texashttp://foift.org/
    • Q&A Time