Here’s what new reporters need to know about on-the-job safety

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — It’s a career many students in the Hall School of Journalism and Communication (HSJC) want to enter: broadcast journalism. But the field, while exciting, can also be dangerous.

HSJC instructor Stephanie East was a reporter for Alabama News Network for nearly 14 years. Over the years she developed her own safety tactics.

“I was a general assignment reporter so I did just about everything,” East said. “Politics, education, breaking news, crime.”

Being on the job can be a little dangerous when you are out on a story.

“Luckily my station made sure that we were always paired up if we had to go out to a crime scene,” East explained. “It’s really important that you have a a buddy system to be able to look out for any situation.”

East stressed the importance of listening to police.

“You’ve got to be able to listen to what the police are telling you. If they tell you not to cross a certain area it’s really important to adhere to that because they know what’s going on and they want to make sure that you don’t put yourself in danger.”

East also said reporters should feel empowered to request additional safety measures.

“Its absolutely okay to ask your boss to have somebody go out with you to a scene if you feel like you’re not going to feel safe. When you get out there, be aware of your surroundings really cognizant of your surroundings.”

The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) also offers safety advice. Some of that advice applies to:

  • No solo live shots if the MMJ does not feel comfortable:
    • Safety is a priority, and MMJs should not feel in danger.
    • Newsroom management needs to trust the MMJ on safety concerns.
    • No solo live shots at night, unless the MMJ feels it can be done safely.
  • Safety Check System
    • When an MMJ is out in the field, a quick safety check is necessary, and this can also involve the producer and director helping out. Just like when they do audio checks.
  • Door Knocking
    • Do not send an MMJ to knock on a door alone, mainly when covering a crime story.
    •   Give the MMJ the option to make the call on this assignment.
    •   If it is a must, have a buddy system where the MMJ goes with another worker.

You can find additional information about reporter safety on the SPJ’s website.