Wisconsin Broadcasters Association

he National Association of Broadcasters, in a joint initiative with the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, recently unveiled an online toolkit entitled “Awareness in Reporting” to help journalists and newsrooms develop greater skill in covering race and racially sensitive news stories. The resource was unveiled at a kickoff event April 12 at the Newseum, which featured panel discussions with journalists and local leaders involved in recent race-related events.

The toolkit was created in response to increased news coverage of issues affecting communities of color stemming from civil unrest, including demonstrations following police-involved shootings and immigration reform protests, among others. The resource provides suggestions and recommendations for journalists and newsroom executives to improve the breadth, depth and accuracy of their news coverage of potentially divisive issues. The initiative also explores how positive news stories can impact overall coverage of minority communities and foster a more collaborative relationship between reporters and the public.

“Local broadcasters play a vital role in our democracy as ‘first informers,’ providing timely, accurate and enlightening information to Americans about the topics affecting their communities,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “At a time when issues of race relations have sparked new conversations throughout our society, NAB hopes this toolkit helps equip journalists with the expertise to cover news events fairly and accurately from all points of view.”

“Broadcasters have a unique position as mirrors of society, with a chance to reflect an accurate picture of the communities they serve,” said NABEF President Marcellus Alexander. “Our goal is to help journalists become more aware of racial and cultural issues, enabling them to provide a more comprehensive portrait for audiences through their reporting.”

NAB partnered with the Radio Television Digital News Association in the development of the toolkit. Journalism organizations of color, academics, journalists, newsroom managers and broadcast executives also assisted in its creation.

The toolkit separates recommendations to cater to those working in four different areas of newsgathering: News Management/Leadership; Reporters, Producers and Writers; Videographers; and Corporate. The toolkit also provides recent examples to journalists of how broadcast stations devoted time and resources to telling stories in ways that provided context and meaning during times of tension.

Journalists and the public are also encouraged to continue a dialogue on Twitter regarding news coverage of these challenging issues using the hashtag #awarenessinreporting.

The “Awareness in Reporting” kickoff presented two panels that explored the reporting of recent race-related events and their aftermath. The first panel, “Lessons Learned from Reporting on the Frontlines,” provided broadcast journalists a forum to discuss recent occurrences of civil unrest in their cities. They provided their takeaways on reporting from the scene, including how to prepare for potential demonstrations and precautions necessary when covering a crisis.

The second panel, “Conversation with Community Leaders,” featured Reverend Kenny Irby, community intervention director for the St. Petersburg Police Department, and Chief David Brown, ABC News contributor and retired Dallas police chief. They spoke about how their relationship with local newsrooms, the impact of social media on information flow and the media protocols in place during crisis situations.

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