Brian Stelter, usually a media reporter at The New York Times, found himself wearing a different hat last week in the middle of of Joplin, Missouri, where he was covering the tornado destruction. It was out of the scope of his usual reporting and wasn’t a planned assignment, but he happened to be at an airport when the tornadoes struck and there was a flight to Kansas leaving in 45 minutes. Like a true reporter with a passion for the story, he got a standby ticket and was on his way.
But when hit with the responsibility of completely unexpected breaking news reporting — it was Stelter’s first time coming upon a natural disaster as a reporter — there were lessons to be learned. Stelter published a stream-of-consciousness-style narrative on his Tumblr that outlines the events of his experience as he remembers them, chronologically. The full piece is worth the read. Here are some takeaways from his experience that any newsroom editor should work into their breaking news plans. Read more