Journalists have a special responsibility during hurricanes and other severe weather situations with potentially wide impacts to be accurate and to be measured in the tone of their coverage. Newsrooms need to prepare in advance to establish expectations for hurricane coverage. As Hurricane Michael approaches Florida, newsrooms should review RTDNA’s coverage guidelines for hurricanes and natural disasters.
Note, in particular, the emphasis on the safety of news teams. News managers, also remember that your team members covering the hurricane may face personal losses and trauma themselves. Be prepared to mitigate the psychological effects of disaster reporting.
For reporters heading toward a storm, preparation is key. To stay safe, make sure to have these items with you and accessible.
For the car
- Windshield washer fluid
- Portable car battery jumper
- Air freshener/damp rid
- Waterproof boots/overalls (try a fishing shop)
- Extra socks (many)
- Rain gear
- Warm clothing/layers
- Portable chargers
- Battery packs and batteries
- Duct tape
- Pliers/tool kit
- Toilet paper
- Baby wipes
- Bug spray
- Dry shampoo
- Important medications and medical information in plastic zipper bags
- List of emergency numbers including local law enforcement, Red Cross
- Medical kit
- Battery-operated weather radio
- Bottled water – at least three gallons per person
- Plastic utensils
- High-protein food that doesn’t require cooking: tuna packets, peanut butter, beef jerky
- Plastic zipper bags for phones and small electronics
- Non-lubricated condoms for keeping small electronics like microphones dry
- Plastic trash bags and grocery bags for wet items and for keeping items dry
- Zip ties for securing equipment
- Local maps (paper and downloaded)
- Pencil and paper
- Shower cap to keep hair dry(ish) between shots
Get more hurricane reporting tips from NPPA and Poynter.
Find more suggested emergency kit items at ready.gov and more hurricane preparedness resources at the National Hurricane Center’s website.