WINK TV’s veteran news director Tom Doerr and his team planned many days out to cover all the anticipated eventualities. Top of mind in all of their planning was safety and the lives of his staff. Here are Tom’s top takeaways:
- Stress safety first at all times. Look out for each other!
- Make sure field crews have a safe place to shield themselves at the height of the hurricane.
- Have an emergency fall-back location if primary fails.
- Take care of all your equipment by protecting it from the elements. That includes transportation. The best place for news cars is concrete parking structures at least one story high. Park microwave and sat trucks in locations that block the wind. Large buildings are best.
- Make sure everyone knows how to prepare for coverage that may last for days or weeks. Food, water, bedding, cash, credit cards, bug spray, changes of clothes, powerful flashlight, top off gas tank at EVERY opportunity, keep phones, cameras, batteries, etc., charging. Tell people to protect cash as long as possible. Use credit cards as much as possible during the lead up to the storm. Credit cards don’t work when power fails.
- Stand ups in hurricane force winds are reckless and highly dangerous.
- Have a flexible plan.
- Clearly communicate the plan AND EXPECTATIONS
- Be prepared to change coverage plans on a dime. Hurricanes follow a script—its script, not yours.
- Make sure crews have the best technology for live coverage from the field. LiveU, Microwave, satellite or hot spots—or a combination of two. First experience with hot spots proved highly unreliable.
- Make sure the plan includes “post” hurricane coverage plans because you will be covering the aftermath of hurricanes for months, even years.
- Hurricane coverage should focus on people and how they prepare, endure and then recover from a devastating event.
Oh, and one more thing: Tom reminds us all to bring a soft pillow and bedding for those many nights you or your team may spend hunkered down in the confines of your office.
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