Wick Communications

Covering the Tucson shootings

In journalism on February 18, 2011 at 9:31 am

Today, we look back at the shootings in Tucson of Jan. 8, 2011. The death of innocents, including a federal court judge, and the grave injuries to a U.S. congresswoman shocked us all. This week, editors at the Arizona Daily Star recalled their coverage of events; those comments follow in the next two posts.

Of course, the Daily Star wasn’t the only local news team on the scene that day. Several Wick newspapers contributed mightily to coverage over a period of weeks. (And we tipped the cap to them a couple of weeks ago.) Few editors were any more involved in the story than Jimmy Boegle of the Tucson Weekly.

I asked Jimmy if he had any tips for the rest of us. Things he learned or relearned in the heat of the story. Things we might all bear in mind the next time something like this happens. (Here’s a thought. Keep these three links handy, perhaps on your own disaster plan. It wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to read them again in the event tragedy strikes in your area and you might be glad you did.)

Here are Jimmy’s tips. He presented them first to a gathering from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies:

• Consider having a (very flexible) tragedy-coverage plan or template in place…

• Make sure you have emergency contact info for your Web hosting/server folks.

• Carry numbers of key writers, freelancers, etc. with you.

• Have the ability to kill annoying ads from your website.

• Make sure breaking news content can be easily placed in your site’s most prominent positions.

• Emotional moments will happen. It’s OK.

• With that in mind, realize everyone is dealing with emotions. Take the calm, high road.

• Mistakes will probably happen. CYA as much as possible when you’re not 100 percent sure.

• Some info has a short shelf life. Get it out there ASAP.

• Space out compelling but non-urgent content, like photos, to keep people coming back.

• Avoid the compulsion to strangle ignorant national media. Instead, help them.

• Twitter is not necessarily the crowd-sourcing Godsend people make it out to be.

• Facebook can be an information-disseminating Godsend.

• Solve your Google and other web problems NOW.

• Make friends with your local college NOW. Especially the photographers.

• Beware of online trolls.

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