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.
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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
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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
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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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With drone, storage and search support, Periscope takes the fight to Facebook Live

Newsrooms and their social media followers are the beneficiaries of a battle between Periscope and Facebook Live that heated up this morning. Periscope, the live-streaming app owned by Twitter, announced today a trio of functions that will make it more competitive with its popular rival. In a post, Periscope said it will soon auto-save live-streams on both the app … Read More
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Why Sree Sreenivasan is boycotting all-male panels

If there is a more revered and beloved online authority than Sree Sreenivasan, I do not know who it would be. He is the former Columbia University chief digital officer and now is chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. That's why, when he posted this Facebook post a week ago, I sat up and noticed. Read More
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Station practices for an emergency on live TV

Newsrooms everywhere had reason to cringe watching the unfolding story Thursday at WBFF-TV in Baltimore where a man wearing a costume walked into the station's lobby claiming he had a bomb. The station evacuated as police moved in and shot the man. The whole incident comes just two weeks before Hollywood releases the film "Money Monster" in which … Read More
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How a journalist caught the cops whitewashing their ticketing records

When KXAN investigative reporter Brian Collister reviewed 16 million Texas Department of Public Safety issued traffic citations last year, he uncovered that state troopers routinely ticketed Hispanic drivers but reported to the state that the drivers were White. More surprising, the TV station discovered that four of the top five names listed as "White" on Texas traffic citations sound Hispanic … Read More
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How NPR and ProPublica exposed America's unequal workers' compensation system

When ProPublica's Michael Grabell was a reporter at The Dallas Morning News, there were three kinds of phone calls he dreaded most. "Family law, V.A. cases and calls involving workers' compensation are impossible to sort out," he said. But as he finished a project about temporary workers injured on the job, he began to get comfortable with state databases … Read More
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CBS News journalist arrested in Chicago amid escalating tensions at Trump rallies

Police arrested five people, including a CBS News reporter, Friday night after protesters disrupted a rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Sopan Deb, who's covered Trump events across America, kept his camera rolling and identified himself as a credentialed journalist to the officer who handcuffed him. As skirmishes broke out between Trump protesters and supporters, Deb captured video … Read More
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Why you shouldn't ask questions like a White House reporter

Long questions seldom produce great answers. And during President Obama's joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday, journalists asked some crazy-long questions. Julie Davis, a White House correspondent for The New York Times, opened the question-and-answer session with a 224-word inquiry that I dissect below. But she says there's logic behind her questions — even if they aren't … Read More
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Sun Sentinel picks none of the above for Florida primary

For the first time that anybody at the (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Sun Sentinel can recall, the paper told its readers that none of the Republican candidates for president earned its endorsement. "I hate that we didn't endorse," editorial page editor Rosemary O'Hara said. "We take this very seriously, we don't take it lightly at all. We offer endorsements not … Read More
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Secret Service agent body slams TIME photographer at Trump rally

Chris Morris, a photographer for TIME magazine, was hurled to the ground by a Secret Service agent Monday at a rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump at Virginia's Radford University. The incident began shortly after a student protest broke out, according to a video recorded by Independent Journal reporter Joe Perticone. On the video, Morris can be heard telling the … Read More
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Trump's favorite target: photojournalists

Just before Donald Trump called for harsher libel laws at a rally in Fort Worth, Texas this afternoon, he fell back on a familiar tactic to mock the press. He was several minutes into a speech on immigration when he was interrupted by chanting from the audience. "Is that a protester?" he asked. "Oh good, turn the cameras! … Read More
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Here's what journalists need to know for covering Scalia's death

In the weeks to come, Journalists will be covering a range of stories touched off by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The decisions ahead have the potential to change the political and ideological complexion of the Supreme Court, set off a power struggle between the president and the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate and compel presidential candidates to … Read More
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Here's what journalists need to know about superdelegates

Yet another thing journalists have to explain to voters during an already complex election season: In America, some people have the voting power of 10,000 ordinary citizens. Case in point: The Iowa Democratic caucuses ended in a virtual tie between Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But when networks reported the returns, they didn't mention the existence of a … Read More