Hurricane Florence guide: Story angles, tools, tips, resources

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Better hurricane coverage; shrinking state coverage in D.C.; Fager out at CBS

With the massive Hurricane Florence moving toward the East Coast — its cloud field four times the size of Ohio — a swath of the United States prepared for its worst storm in 25 years. More than 1 million people have been ordered evacuated.

They included Sandra Lopez-Garcia, huddled in a high school-turned-shelter outside of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, nearly a year after she rode out Hurricane Maria in her native Puerto Rico.

“I really don’t know what my luck is,” she told The Washington Post.

As the hurricane threatens the coast, here are updated resources and tips for smarter Florence coverage. We also have story angles to consider.

The coverage

The story angles

Beyond power cuts, shelters and casualties, a by-no-means-comprehensive list of ideas for the first few days after landfall.

  • Stuck: What’s happening to prisoners left behind in the mandatory evacuation zone? It was a mess when Texas officials left prisoners in place during Harvey. (Mother Jones)
  • An evergreen: Can FEMA handle this? Here's fallout from Trump administration's summertime shift of $10 million in funding from FEMA to ICE. (Bloomberg)
  • Nothing coming in: No store hours means no pay for unsalaried, hourly employees. (The Post and Courier)
  • Sabotaged: Did North Carolina's coastal residents fully know about the vulnerability of the region to storm surges? How state lawmakers, at the behest of real-estate groups, barred policymakers and developers from using up-to-date climate science to plan for rising sea levels. (Huffington Post)
  • What's with the Superfund sites? The EPA said it would assess nine of them in the hurricane's projected path, but there are dozens of others. (The News & Observer)
  • How long will recovery take? Puerto Rico a year after Maria. (The Washington Post)

Quick hits

Erica Martinson
Erica Martinson

ALASKA BUREAU CLOSES: Erica Martinson tweeted she had “a quintessential journalism experience” on Monday: She was laid off. “There is no longer a Washington Bureau for the Anchorage Daily News,” she wrote. “It was me. Now it’s not.”

BACKSTORY: Martinson’s plight underscores another narrative in Washington, the decline in Washington correspondents for small-town and regional news outlets in a town where Axios, The Atlantic and Vox are expanding. A 2016 Pew study showed 21 states with no dedicated Washington reporter covering Congress.

WHAT’S NEXT: Martinson’s departure leaves Liz Ruskin, of Alaska Public Radio, as the only D.C.-based reporter from an outlet in America’s biggest state. “Nothing can replace the reach of a state's paper of record,” Ruskin tells me, “but I'll do my best.” An idea of what state-based reporters can bring to readers: Martinson’s stories on Trump's threatened retribution against the state for Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s healthcare vote, and the National Weather Service’s replacement of employees who launched weather balloons throughout Alaska with automated Finnish-made machines.

ANOTHER SHOE DROPS AT CBS: ‘60 Minutes’ chief Jeff Fager, accused of allowing a culture of sexual harassment at the long-running newsmagazine, is out for “violating company policy,” Variety reports. His ouster comes three days after chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves left following accusations of sexual assault and harassment.

SHEKELS? REALLY?: Yes, that was Eric Trump blowing that anti-Semitic dog whistle on Fox News, opining on Bob Woodward's motivation for writing the best-selling "Fear" and appearing on CNN to promote it. Woodward's CNN appearance, said the president's son, "will mean you sell three extra books, you make three extra shekels." The shekel, the Israeli currency, is often used by white nationalists to describe money they claim has come from Jewish influence. "The only people who refer to being paid off as wanting 'extra shekels' are Israelis speaking Hebrew and anti-Semites speaking English outside Israel," wrote Yair Rosenberg, a senior writer at Tablet Magazine. Conservatives Bill Kristol and Ben Shapiro also criticized the younger Trump, who may have been confused about current currency rates as well: Three shekels are worth about 84 cents.

MOVES: Heidi Blake, who led the BuzzFeed News investigation into Russian assassinations, has been named the outlet’s global investigations editor. She replaces Mark Schoofs, who is leaving for USC Annenberg. Ariel Kaminer will be stepping into the role of investigations and projects editor, Blake's No. 2. "There’s only one reason to have an investigations team: To commit resources to going after the biggest stories in the world," Editor-in-chief Ben Smith told the staff in a message. "That’s what we’re going to be doing." … City Bureau, a nonprofit civic organization based in Chicago's South Side, has announced three hires: India Daniels, who will be a field coordinator with its Documenters initiative; web developer Pat Sier; and Kamilah Rashied as donor community manager.

TIME TO GO: After 22 years, Jacob Weisberg is leaving Slate. The site's chief and co-host of its Trumpcast podcast is heading into an audio venture with Malcolm Gladwell, who is now hosting "Revisionist History" and appears on the music podcast "Broken Record." Why leave now? "The thing in the last two years I have enjoyed the most has been working on podcasts and audio programming, developing the shows with Malcolm,” Weisberg told the NYT's Jaclyn Peiser.

THE BLACKNESS: That's the name of the latest site using the blockchain-based journalism platform Civil. Its mission: long-form multimedia stories focusing on underrepresented communities of color, Fast Company reports. The idea “was to talk about the things that just disappear,” says Erika Alexander, the actress known for roles in "Get Out" and "Living Single" and a co-founder of the media and venture studio behind the site.

SOLD: The 88-year-old building that is the headquarters of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for $3.5 million. The newspaper employees will continue to work there, as tenants.

On Poynter.org

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Got a tip, a link, Florence-related story ideas? We’re trying to make this roundup better every day. Please email me at dbeard@poynter.org or reach me @dabeard. Thanks to Ren LaForme for editing this —between hurricane updates.

And have a great Thursday.

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