January 22, 2016

On Monday, WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show will launch a reboot with a tighter local focus.

“The ethos of the show is to be the meeting place for conversations Washingtonians care about,” said Michael Martinez, a producer for the show. “In that sense, the storm is gonna be the conversation on Monday, and this will put us smack dab in the middle of it.”

Although, he added, it might make it hard to get to and from work.

The blizzard heading toward Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City might make it hard for a lot of journalists to get to work. But the newsrooms we spoke with had plans to cover the news that will be dominating the region, and they had plans to get their people to work (or at least ways for them to work from home.)

A Colorado journalist was hospitalized with frostbite. Here’s how you can stay safe in the cold.

Are you in the path of the blizzard? Let me know how you’re preparing to cover the storm and to work through it. I’ll try to include your comments in this piece. Here’s what we’ve heard so far:


At WAMU, Martinez and his SUV are prepared to pick up Nnamdi if necessary.

“He’s the real key to all of this,” Martinez said. “He’s kind of unflappable and does so well on the air and is so good to reacting to things in real time.”

Martinez did the same thing back in 2010 when the massive blizzard hit town. And even though the show won’t be on the air until Monday, staff will be connected and gathering stories to share with their audience.

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“I should also say we’re lucky we’ve got great, creative and fearless partners in the WAMU newsroom who will be gathering stories and content all through the storm,” Martinez said. “And we’ll be teaming with them on air and online in the days ahead to do our very best by the audience.”

The New York Times

The two years Elisabeth Goodridge has worked as The New York Times’ deputy editor for the Metro desk have included two tough winters.

“We have kind of a playbook in place already,” Goodridge said.

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There’s a digital and print plan, a plan for a live-blog, a plan to get people in the right place to cover it and a plan to make sure everything renders on mobile. Their plans also include having a block of rooms booked and ready at Times Square in case people can’t get home.

“It is expect the unexpected,” she said, “though you’ll always get the expected.”

Snow means there will be a run on salt and shovels. Transit could be a problem. People will get stuck. How’s the city handling the weather? The sanitation department?

“So preparation is key.”

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Readers can’t get enough of weather stories, Goodridge has noticed.

“They are very excited whether they make you happy or whether they make you anxious.”

When the weather becomes the dominate news, it affects everyone, she said.

“It affects everyone’s commute, it affects their lifestyle, it affects their children getting to and from school,” Goodridge said. “People rely on us, and we try not to let them down.”

The Washington Post

The Post will have reporters across the region to cover the blizzard, said Mike Semel, Local Editor of The Washington Post, in an email, “– in DC, Maryland and Virginia — covering every aspect of the storm for our readers online, on mobile and in print.”

The Post is also lifting it’s paywall for the storm.

The Washingtonian

“We plan to keep working this weekend and next week no matter what,” said Andrew Beaujon, senior editor at Washingtonian and a former reporter for Poynter, in an e-mail.

The Washingtonian has already started sharing readers’ snow photos, he said, “and we’ve compiled, via a shared Google doc, a list of old content that people might find fun, interesting and useful that we’ll share on Facebook and other social channels. We’re also working on new stories and service stuff. It’ll all be easily findable at http://www.washingtonian.com/tag/snow/.”

Screen shot, Washingtonian

Screen shot, Washingtonian

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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