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.

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Basic police reporting

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