Media guide for extreme events

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From conversations at the 2016 Watsonville TechFest


Guide for

  1. reporters acting in good faith in a post-shock location
  2. members of an affected population before talking with reporters

Background for request

David was a reporter in one of the communities affected by the VA Tech shooting. Existing trust network. Sports writer in the community, were able to talk to folk. media professionals aren't necessarily given guidance in how to interact with folk -- how to get the information and be able to share it. Where people can send their support. different with tornadoes and stuff. A violent crisis is different in that there's more confusion about WHY something has been happened. There could be more training for journalists around the behavior. National news orgs were coming in. The career-ism was creepy. Need to have sensitivity training (you're talking to people on the worst days of their lives). Not "just doing my job," there are ways to do your job in a more co-equal way. Didn't have social media infrastructure in the same ways, beholden to news and police reports (not necessarily on the up-and-up).

There isn't a Hippocratic Oath for reporters. There isn't an IRB for reporters.

Local news orgs understand that they'll still be around after everyone else has left. continuity and accountability. The pay sucks in those jobs, so people do it because they love it. Social media both uplifts the voices of the historically marginalized, but also means folk can bully them. There's also a vicious spread of rumors. National TV folk are vultures. have you ever seen anyone push back against them? Disrupting their shots will annoy them. Can't bar the media from showing up. Can decide not to talk to them, but they migth find someone with a bad narrative.

People want to shift a narrative really quickly. The people showing up have the largest audiences. Are there guides for dealing with the media? Don't let them ambush you. Say you'll call them back so you can get your shit together. Don't wing it on the record with a reporter. ESPECIALLY when dealing with vulnerable populations. Ask them a lot of questions. People are good at disguising themselves. Red flag words that would out them. Be familiar with the counter-narrative so you can catch those buzzwords (someone saying "illegal" instead of "undocumented" is an easy one). It's not DON'T talk to them, just be cautious about how you say what you say. Record it as well so you can show the actual conversation if it's misrepresented. If they balk, fuck 'em. Lots of sharks out there, don't want to fall prey to them.

Self-reflection checkin. What will you get out of the interview? Are they likely to represent you well?

About a community pulling together and helping themselves.

The media narrative shapes how resources are gathered and deployed. Guide in how to act in good faith as a reporter. Guide in how to interact with media in a crisis.