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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

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
NEWS

After being stonewalled for years, Carol Rosenberg is suing the government — again

Miami Herald reporter Carol Rosenberg just wants some basic facts. What she's after used to be freely available but is now kept secret by the Pentagon. It involves hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of people and 60 prisoners. She's been chasing the information for more than two years. And now, she's going to court to get it. On Wednesday, … Read More
NEWS

A witness to suicide, one reporter pieces together the troubled backstory

When Chicago Sun-Times reporter Frank Main showed the first draft to his wife after weeks worth of work, she gave him some advice: "You need to put yourself into the story." He had plenty of his own experience to share. On May 6, Main watched as a young woman jumped to her death from a four-story building. His paper doesn't … Read More
NEWS

As profanity-laced video leaks, outlets grapple with Trump's language

Open microphones have often left politicians and other powerful people red-faced and apologetic. But The Washington Post's decision Friday to publish a video of Donald Trump explaining how he kissed and groped women pushed some newsrooms to dance around the graphic language while others took it public unedited. Because Trump's attitude toward women has been a central issue raised … Read More
NEWS

Star-Tribune pulls column criticizing an anchor's skinny jeans

While the media in Minneapolis poured its heart into coverage of a stunning confession that closed a decades-old murder case this week, a columnist at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune fired off a critique of a fellow journalist's skinny jeans. The controversy began Tuesday after Star-Tribune columnist — who goes by "C.J." — posted a question via Twitter to Jana Shortal, … Read More
NEWS

Fox News whiffs on coverage of settlement with Gretchen Carlson

Hours after Vanity Fair, NPR, CNN and The Washington Post reported that Fox News was settling with former anchor Gretchen Carlson for $20 million, the network has still said nothing about the settlement on air. Earlier this morning, Fox News posted a story by "MediaBuzz" host Howard Kurtz acknowledging the lawsuit had been settled. A separate report by Kurtz … Read More
NEWS

How a Baton Rouge broadcaster co-anchored 9 hours of shooting coverage

When WAFB anchor and investigative reporter Greg Meriwether got an 8:58 a.m. call that somebody had fired upon Baton Rouge police Sunday, he began his mental routine while throwing on clothes and calling sources he had built up over 15 years of working in the market. "I wanted to be careful about whatever language we used," Meriwether said. "We … Read More
NEWS

10 questions journalists should ask themselves before going live on Facebook

Facebook Live came of age this week in the way that radio did in World War II, TV did when John Kennedy was killed, cable TV did during the first Gulf War and Twitter did in the Arab Spring. Journalists will look back on this week years from now and remember a time when only TV and radio stations had … Read More
NEWS

Morley Safer: A reporter's life

Only last week, "60 Minutes" Executive Producer Jeff Fager announced Morley Safer's retirement, saying, "I knew this day was coming, and I just never wanted it to arrive." Now, the journalist who covered 919 stories for "60 Minutes," a veteran reporter whose career spanned 52 years for CBS, has died. He was part of a Mount Rushmore of journalism … Read More
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