- Communities depend on local news every day, but during disasters, local news teams can be lifesavers.
During Hurricane Harvey, journalists - some of whom have lost everything themselves- have again and again shown how responsible reporting is so critical, and how journalists are, above all, courageous citizens.
- They've hunkered down in their newsrooms, working for days without pause to help Houstonians know where quickly rising waters were headed. Radio stations - so critical when power goes out - have been on the air with wall-to-wall coverage, helping evacuees know where to go for help. Even a flooded station couldn't be kept off the air for long, and continued to provide coverage from the field and with help from sister stations around the country.
- Local reporting has helped channel national response efforts, and reporters, coming across desperate situations in the field, have flagged down help and even acted as rescuers themselves. Journalists around the country have stepped up too, taking to social media to respond to urgent pleas for help with connections to help.
Covering disaster is not only an immense logistical challenge, but also an ethical one.
- "Responsible reporting means considering the consequences of both the newsgathering ...and of the material’s potential dissemination. Certain stakeholders deserve special consideration..." says the RTDNA Code of Ethics.
- News teams covering Harvey must be especially vigilant in remembering that Houstonians come first, and getting the story is predicated upon respecting people in the midst of suffering.
- That's something reporters haven't always gotten right during Harvey, and news teams are asking themselves some tough questions before heading to Houston. When does your presence become a hindrance and drain on resources rather than an important window for the world? What's the line between showing people's struggles and exploiting their plight? When does your presence become a hindrance and drain on resources rather than an important window for the world?
Above all, journalists are motivated by a desire and duty to inform. And, for that, they have our thanks.
- This week, we've seen journalists fight to be their best. They'll learn from their mistakes, push forward and continue to dedicate their lives to keeping their communities informed.
Local news -print, digital, & radio - step up to keep communities informed.
Even when it requires improvising or helping from afar, news teams don't quit.
When they see people in need first-hand, they jump in to help.