April 25: How To Cover Mass Shootings

The hard truth is that — sooner or later — a mass shooting is going to happen in your coverage area.

Everyone’s nightmare. A reporter’s and editor’s hardest test.

Are you ready?

News Journalist Microphone SQUAREThere are lessons journalists can learn from the Feb. 15 shooting at the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, where five people — including an NIU intern — lost their lives.

At an April 25 seminar in the Sky Room of the Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University, we’ll break down what happened that day, examine how the Chicago Tribune handled its coverage, find out how the Aurora Police Department dealt with local and national media and take a closer look at what we as an industry did well — and what we could have done better.

The panelists will be people intimately involved in the day’s events:

Anita Lewis, a Pratt Company employee and Kane County Board member, will tell us what it was like to be in the building at the time of the shooting and offer insights about the media coverage.

Beacon-News reporter Megan Jones and Tribune reporter Stacy St. Clair will share insights about the coverage and how they were able to produce compelling stories and images under desperately difficult circumstances.

Aurora Police Department Public Information Officer Bill Rowley — whose first day on the job was Feb. 15 — will explain the behind-the-scenes machinations and offer a fresh perspective about the flow of information.

If you don’t go to any other seminar or webinar this year, go to this one.

It’s a rare opportunity to learn more about your craft, to understand the pressures of breaking news coverage and to prepare yourself for the day a mass shooting happens in your town.

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