RTNDA Revisits News and Terrorism Issues

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The Radio and Television News Directors Association revisited the issues of improving news coverage in the event of terrorism at a News and Terrorism Workshop in San Diego last month, moderated by Aaron Brown, anchor of PBS program Wide Angle.

Brown and Captain Rob Brisley, PIO of the Charlotte (N.C.) Fire Department, summarized some of their conclusions from the workshop in videos posted to the RTNDA Web site.

Brown said one point news teams need to remember is to "prepare not on the day of the attack but months ahead" so that the station has, for example, up-to-date lists of phone numbers of all personnel to be reached through a phone tree system, as well as contingency plans for covering for people who may be personally caught up in events and unable to immediately report to work.

He also had a note of caution for those on the government side for dealing with the electronic news media. "The information bucket fills up so quickly, and either it gets filled up with good stuff or bad stuff, but either way it gets filled. So if you're on the governmental side, you need to make sure the things you want to get out get out quickly and are accurate," Brown said. Public-information officers who spin the truth or give inaccurate information do so at great risk, he said, adding, "You're going to lose the trust of people you need in a crisis."

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