I’ll admit it right up front: I love checklists. I especially like for them breaking news because, let’s face it, at a chaotic news scene it’s easy to forget to ask something important — and it may be hard to fill in that hole later. (Always always always try to sweet-talk a cell phone number out of the people you talk to in these situations.)
Last Thursday, I briefly mentioned two very useful and important checklists available from the ACE when you’re on general assignment: one for fires and the other for vehicle crashes. Take a look at them and note that we don’t just ask the basics, we also try to gather information that helps with the chronology of storytelling (“What happened next?”).
We also ask questions that bring the stories alive (“What was the dog’s name?”) and add a public health perspective (“Was he/she wearing a seat belt?” “Were there smoke detectors in the house?“).
Once you’ve grasped the thinking in these two types of breaking news stories, you’ll find it easier to apply a logical process to other kinds of stories.
And by all means, think visual. Your smartphone is a powerful tool. ABC (Always Be Charged) and have the apps you need. Because you never know when you’re going to find yourself in the middle of a breaking news story.