One of the greatest things about working at a newspaper is you never know what’s going to happen. Especially nowadays, with online media ramping up the pace in the newsroom, there’s always something going on. And every once in a while, something huge happens, something that everyone in the country is talking about. When the world stops, newspapers have to hustle. The Tucson Massacre is the perfect display of why every newspaper should have a plan for crisis situations.
In a situation like the Tucson massacre, I would immediately send two or three reporters to the scene, along with a photographer. When the crisis first happens, the most important job we have is to go to the scene and find out as much information as possible. On top of the basic who, what, where, why and when, the reporters would need to find out the status of the victim or victims, whether there is still a threat, what comes next and how officials are responding. All this information needs to be posted to the website immediately. If possible, I would want the reporters blogging about this as they find the information so that readers everywhere can get up-to-date information quickly. This also might be a good opportunity to take advantage of Twitter as reporters find more information out.
After the most crucial information is published, we would need to find out more about the circumstances behind the incident. In this case, I would want a reporter to contact Gifford’s office and – eventually – her family. I would also want this reporter to do research on the suspect so we can try to find out what his or her motivation was. I would not want the information about the suspect to be published like we published the other information. Rather, I would save that for the print edition so it can become a more in-depth piece, delving into public records and hopefully including interviews with people who know the suspect and victim.
When crises like the Tucson Massacre occur, it is important for newspapers to respond quickly and accurately. I think the Internet is the perfect way to keep readers updated on issues that they care about.