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Posts by Al Tompkins

About Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer, investigative reporter, head of special investigations and News Director, Tompkins joined the Poynter Institute where he is Senior Faculty for Broadcast and Online. He is the author of "Aim for the Heart" a textbook about multimedia storytelling that has been adopted by more than 100 universities worldwide. He has taught in 49 states, Canada, Egypt, Denmark, South Africa, Iceland and the Caymans. Tompkins is the recipient of some of journalism's highest awards including The National Emmy, the Japan Prize, The American Bar Association's Silver Gavel, The Peabody (group award), 7 National Headliner Awards, The Robert F. Kennedy Award and The Iris Award. He was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and honored with The Governor's Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Tompkins helped to author the national codes of ethics for both the National Press Photographers Association and the Radio and Television Digital News Association.
NEWS

Drone journalists get very good news – instant waivers

Drone journalists just got some very good news. The FAA says that this year it will begin offering "instant authorization" for drone flights in controlled airspace. It will start what is called Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability, or LAANC, in select cities. By the end of the year, 50 cities will be included. In an article for Forbes, Pepperdine professor Gregory … Read More
NEWS

NPR and SAG/AFTRA reach tentative agreement

National Public Radio and the SAG/AFTRA union that represents more than 400 on-air and off-air workers said early Sunday that they had reached a tentative three-year agreement. NPR management sent Poynter a statement saying the union agreed to recommend the new deal to its members: Both sides have been working over several months to reach this new, forward-looking agreement that … Read More
NEWS

Union 'still hopeful' as contract with NPR is about to expire

This story has been updated. The SAG/AFTRA union that represents more than 400 on-air and off-air employees of National Public Radio continues taking steps toward a strike. The union posted an online countdown clock ticking down to midnight Friday when the current contract extension expires. NPR management issued this statement to Poynter late Friday: Conversations between NPR … Read More
NEWS

SAG/AFTRA has posted an NPR contract countdown clock

As promised, SAG/AFTRA, the union that represents more than 400 on-air and off-air workers at National Public Radio, published a website Thursday complete with a countdown clock timed to Friday midnight when the temporary extension of the current contract expires. The union says, "The Future of NPR is at stake." And Becky Sullivan, a union shop steward and … Read More
NEWS

NPR-SAG/AFTRA contract talks are either 'productive' or 'frustrating' depending on who you talk with

National Public Radio says contract talks with the SAG-AFTRA union that represents more than 400 on- and off-air NPR employees are "productive." The union says talks are "frustrating," and "not going well." Becky Sullivan, a union shop steward and a member of the bargaining team, told Poynter that a federal mediator met with both sides Monday and Tuesday but talks … Read More
NEWS

Police praise TV assignment editor for helping rescue hostages

Cobb County, Georgia police praised WSB TV Assignment Editor Stephanie Steiger for helping them rescue two hostages in a bank Friday. Brian Easley, who said he was a former Marine, called Atlanta's WSB TV and told Steiger, “I have a bomb and I’m holding people hostage.” For 45 minutes, Steiger listened to Easley's complaints about the Department of Veterans … Read More
NEWS

U.S. Court of Appeals sides with First Amendment right to video-record police

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of journalists and ordinary bystanders video recording police. The three-judges appellate panel ruled in the cases of a Temple University student, Richard Fields and Amanda Geraci, who was a member of a police watchdog group in Philadelphia called Up Against the Law. It was a case that drew a … Read More
NEWS

Across the United States, NPR is reorganizing its member stations around regional hubs

NPR's top news executive announced plans to roll out a regional hub system at a speech for the Public Radio News Directors convention in Miami on Friday. Michael Oreskes, NPR's senior vice president for news and editorial director, told news directors that he envisions, "more than four and less than 12 hubs around the country." The hubs would be staffed … Read More
NEWS

Chicago TV makes right call by running violent Facebook video cautiously

For the past 24 hours, Chicago media have been cautiously running gruesome video of four people tying up, cutting, beating and taunting a mentally disabled man while broadcasting the ordeal live on Facebook. The video is hard to watch. One of the captors slapped the victim repeatedly and used a knife to cut the victim's clothing then cut a plug … Read More
NEWS

Why new journalism grads are optimistic about 2017

Since today's college journalism students have been in school, the forecasts for their futures has been filled with words like "layoffs," "cutbacks," "buyouts" and "freelance." And yet, when I asked journalism professor friends of mine to recommend top graduating students I should interview, I found every newly minted journalist optimistic about the future, despite the uncertainties that await them. I … Read More
NEWS

How the Palm Beach Post counted 216 overdosed dead, one by one

The Palm Beach Post investigative team was working on a series of stories about the "sober home" industry when it became clear that another story was unfolding right in front of them. The county is an epicenter of alcohol recovery, with wealthy people flying in and beginning treatment in so-called "sober homes," investigative reporter Pat Beall told Poynter. Reporters at … Read More
NEWS

How The Oregonian made a lead dust investigation that could compete with cat videos

Mark Katches has spent his career battling one of the cruel realities of journalism: Hard-hitting and important investigative reporting rarely creates the kind of online buzz that a good cat video does. "I have been involved in Pulitzer Prize winning projects that were getting 20,000 pageviews," Katches, the editor of the Oregonian, told Poynter. So when his team discovered that … Read More
NEWS

Years of planning pay off for CNN and Miami Herald's coverage of Castro's death

When news of Fidel Castro's death broke late Friday night, the Miami Herald had a plan, decades in the making, to cover the story. "We've been planning for this story longer than some of the people covering it have been alive," said Rick Hirsch, managing editor of the Miami Herald. Shortly after Castro's death, the Herald's website was flush … Read More
NEWS

In defense of polling

Pollsters have been popular pinatas this week for "missing" the Trump movement. But many of these critiques have a key flaw: They fail to acknowledge margins of error built into political polls across the United States. When a poll includes a three percent margin of error in a two-person race, a candidate must have a six-point lead on his … Read More
NEWS

Newspapers plan for big post-election newsstand sales

No matter how we consume election results tonight, printed newspapers will probably be in huge demand tomorrow. That was the case eight years ago, when Barack Obama was elected. High demand resulted in scarce supply: The Chicago Tribune sold framed copies for $99, street vendors sold out of papers and there were widespread reports of people stealing … Read More
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