Disaster coverage

San Diego fires: where to go for coverage

Media large and small are covering the multiple wildfires in San Diego County that have burned homes, closed schools, forced thousands to flee, and prompted a state of emergency declaration by California Gov. Jerry Brown this week.

Temperatures reached 106 in some areas on Thursday, contributing to conditions that have given firefighters little relief since the first wildfire was sparked on Tuesday. As of Thursday evening, the fires had burned more than 10,000 acres, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Here are some news sites to follow and the coverage features to look for. Some of the latest and best coverage has been appearing on social media:

U-T San Diego (short, digestible stories; photo galleries; video; information for residents; curation of emergency agency tweets)

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N.Y. Daily News uses drone video in Harlem explosion coverage

New York Daily News

Drone-captured video and images of the Harlem explosion aftermath made for riveting viewing on the New York Daily News site Thursday.

The drone belongs to 45-year-old Brian Wilson, a business systems expert, the Daily News reported.

Wilson said he heard about the explosion from his roommate and immediately jumped in a cab with his flying camera and headed to the scene.

Police allowed Wilson to videotape the collapsed buildings with his DJI Phantom 2 quadcopter for 30 minutes before his battery ran down. And, at the end, police told him they’d prefer he not fly his drone any longer, he said. Read more

Firefighters battle a fire after a building collapses in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Resources for covering NYC building explosion and other disasters

Firefighters battle a fire after a building collapses in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 (AP Photo/John Minchillo)


Here are some quick tips and best practices for coverage of disasters such as the building explosion in Harlem Wednesday:

5 tips for covering disaster preparedness Dig for context and other advice when covering the unexpected.

Boston explosions a reminder of how breaking news is changing Don’t make assumptions and other advice on avoiding mistakes when the adrenaline is pumping. Read more

A winter storm approaching the East Coast has been blamed for over a dozen lives since moving across the country from California. (National Weather Service)

Time to prepare as storm approaches the east

The New York Times | Weather.com

As a winter storm cuts its way through the South and lumbers closer to the East Coast this week, it’s a wise newsroom that’s planning not just for a severe weather story but also for an emergency that could stop its presses or take down its website.

As of Monday night, forecasters expected the storm to bring rain, ice and snow to the South, with two to four inches of rain predicted for eastern cities beginning Wednesday. Airports from Boston to Washington, D.C., may be hardest hit, but the storm could also complicate holiday driving, the National Weather Service said.

Travelers in the East may see the effects of the storm as early as today, according to the Times. Read more

Occupy Oakland

Journalists under attack: Pros offer safety advice

Look at this page on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ website and feel a pain in your gut. The site documents the 45 journalists who have been killed on the job worldwide this year. Most were covering human rights, politics and/or crime when they died.

If you think the only journalists who face danger on the job are those working in Syria or Egypt, you’re wrong. Last week, WDAZ reporter Adam Ladwig was attacked by three people while covering a fire. Last month, a woman attacked a WUSA9 crew. A CBS2/KCAL9 reporter and photojournalist were attacked while covering the Zimmerman verdict protests in July. In August, Poynter.org told you about the San Francisco area attacks on news crews. In a six-week period, thieves attacked journalists six times, targeting cameras, computers and tripods and taking gear at gunpoint in at least one case. Read more

Typhoon survivor Mario Barbado, 56, waits for a chance to board any military transport planes from the U.S., Philippines, Malaysia or Singapore, on Sunday Nov. 17, 2013 at the damaged Tacloban airport in central Philippines.  Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded, slammed into central Philippine provinces on  Nov. 8, leaving a wide swath of destruction and thousands of people dead. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Reporting on the ground in the Philippines

At least 2,300 people are reported dead following the onslaught of Haiyan, the super typhoon that swept through the Philippines Friday.

As more media outlets deploy reporters to the scene, the scale of the devastation in Leyte and Samar provinces is coming into sharper focus. Help is slowly arriving, but many remain without food, water and medical supplies, journalists and aid organizations report.

We’re monitoring the social media posts of reporters, bloggers and aid officials on the ground in the hard-hit regions. Add your suggestions for others to follow in the comments below.

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How NBC News reporter and firefighter Al Henkel covers wildfires

You never get the smell of smoke out of your skin.

“It’ll be in there for weeks,” NBC News Coordinating Producer Al Henkel said via phone as he drove to Boise after several days covering the Beaver Creek fire in Idaho.

Henkel, who is based in Dallas, has been covering fires for NBC News since at least the mid-’80s. In 2005 NBC sent him to fire school in Colorado so he could earn his “red card,” the credential that allows firefighters to join wildfire crews upon arrival. He occasionally helps out with controlled burns at the LBJ National Grasslands in Texas.

“Some guys play golf,” Henkel said. “This is what I do.”

Henkel joined the Pike Hotshots of Monument, Colo., in Idaho for two days this week and posted pictures from the Beaver Creek blaze on Instagram when he could get cell phone service. Read more


Gary England on covering Oklahoma tornadoes for 42 years: ‘I don’t have to tell them it is scary’

In 42 years of Oklahoma City weathercasting, KWTV’s Gary England estimates he has tracked more than 1,000 tornadoes, and without a doubt, that estimate is “on the low end.” When he started his TV career in 1972, he wrote on his weather map with chalk.  Nine years later, KWTV says “England became the first person in history to use Doppler radar for direct warnings to the public.”  He even appeared in Steven Spielberg’s movie “Twister.” In November he will be inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.

England: “There will be time to look at video of destruction later.”

In those years he had developed a mantra that he says he pushes his team of seven meteorologists to follow on days like Monday, when a mile-wide tornado tore through the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. Read more


AP photographer Sue Ogrocki talks about photographing children at Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Okla., Monday.

In the 30 minutes that I was outside the destroyed school, I photographed about a dozen children pulled from the rubble.

I focused my lens on each one of them. Some looked dazed. Some cried. Others seemed terrified.

But they were alive.

I know that some students were among those who died in the tornado, but for a moment, there was hope in the devastation.

Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press


Boston explosions a reminder of how breaking news reporting is changing

Terrible events such as yesterday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon have always meant “all hands on deck” for news organizations, with staffers pulled off their regular beats to contribute.

But the endpoint of the newsgathering and reporting is no longer a front-page package of stories explaining — the best one can — what happened, why it happened and what might be next. Now, there is no endpoint — events are reported in real time, with stories in constant motion, and the front page is a snapshot of an organization’s reporting at the moment when the presses needed to roll.

Boston was a reminder of that, and a look at what’s changing in real-time journalism. Through Twitter and various live blogs, I found myself looking over my shoulder at the Boston Globe, the New York Times, Reuters and other news organizations, and was able to make some observations and draw some conclusions. Read more

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