JWF FellowshipsPoynter Institute Experience
Reports from:Bruce Claggett
editor, News 1130
Within moments of sharing a shuttle with a visiting faculty lecturer from Detroit, I discovered the Poynter Institute would not only serve as a venue for revisiting journalistic leadership but also help nurture a network of broadcasters committed to pushing the boundaries of 'purpose.' I came to St. Petersburg as a Canadian radio news editor but was quickly welcomed by more than a dozen TV newsroom organizers from around the States, all armed with similar stories and challenges for our 'Managing People and Plans for Breaking News' seminar.
One of my goals in applying for a Jack Webster Foundation Fellowship was to augment my knowledge and skills to enhance systems for managing breaking news situations, especially during natural disasters or other notable emergencies. This Poynter seminar exceeded my expectations by incorporating participant experiences in its sessions. Some of the highlights were:
- A Systems Approach to Breaking News - During this session, we focused on building a station's image around the concepts of getting to the scene first, getting the story right and getting it on the air.
- Breaking News Ethics - This centered on three main areas including anticipating ethical problems in order to avoid ethical explosions, incorporating experts in news coverage (mainly for off-air advice) and maintaining balance through tone and proportion.
- The ABCs of Performance Management - We examined Antecedents, Behaviors and Consequences in dealing with reporter staffing issues.
- Performance Management: "Tearing Down the Walls" - This interesting session dealt with the experiences learned in one TV newsroom after the physical walls were removed and no one could hide.
- The Disaster Plan Breakout Group - In this small group discussion, we examined communication webs for allocating reporter resources.
Ideas flowing from these sessions often continued through casual evening discussions.
During one of our dinners, a fellow participant from Memphis used the term 'cousins' to explain her approach to phoning other newsrooms. Now that the Poynter sessions have ended, we use email list serves to communicate with all our 'seminar cousins,' sharing ideas ranging from the definition of 'exclusive' to handling natural disasters. Such ongoing discussions prove that plans now being readied for implementation at my newsroom, News1130, are still living concepts that can be improved through the lessons learned from other media markets. This positions us to excel at conveying timely, accurate and credible information. On a daily basis, this means continuing to build on journalistic credibility - a concept that Poynter recognizes as key to any station's success. In fact, being trusted as an information source is far more than simple business acumen. It's about delivering the best product 24 hours a day so our audience has a trusted ally during any emergency and an advocate during their daily lives.