Journalism students can learn from Christopher Dorner coverage

News has been plopping left and right for the past nine days and tomorrow may be another chapter or the climactic end.

Apparently, Christopher Dorner, the suspect who allegedly murdered Monica Quan, Keith Lawrence, Michael Krain, and more recently, a sheriff deputy, was cornered and forced to take shelter in a cabin in Big Bear. There was an exchange of gunfire, an attempted escape with the use of smoke bombs, and finally a big ol’ fire that may or may not have killed Dorner.

There are a variety of things that journalism students, like me, can take notice of as the story unfolds:

  1. THE NEWS – what’s happening right now. Coverage of the manhunt, the gunfights, the misidentified trucks that were fired upon by police.
  2. ENTERPRISE – finding news and stories behind the bigger issue. Profiles on the victims, examining the manifesto, profile on Dorner, a feature story about the paranoia of the police or hunting one of your own.
  3. SOCIAL MEDIA – getting the news to a bigger audience through social platforms – most especially Twitter. News unfolding on Twitter by the minute.
  4. SOURCES – making use of your connections and deciding whether or not they’re credible enough for attribution. Several news outlets contacted LAPD and sheriff department connections, including the Chief of Police of Riverside to confirm that Dorner was killed. This, however, was false after the LAPD and the Sheriffs Department of San Bernardino said the investigators had not yet entered the cabin.
  5. TIMELINESS – the battle between accuracy and getting the story first. Stories of Christopher Dorner’s death had been published and broadcasted despite the fact that this has not been confirmed by the LAPD or the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.
  6. AGGRESSIVENESS – getting to the story, asking the right questions, GETTING THEM ANSWERED, and relaying the information. Watch the news – reporters flock to the press conferences, pitching every question they can possibly think of even when the public relations staffer grew irritated.
  7. DELIVERY – a variety of ways to get the news out. Timelines, videos, photo galleries, etc.
  8. PATIENCE – putting in the long hours, especially if the bigger story begins to unfold in front of you. News reporters have staked out in numerous locations, including Big Bear, Loma Linda hospital, and also in front of the Los Angeles Police Department building.
  9. TEAM WORK – working as a cohesive unit and making sure everyone is on the same page. Los Angeles Times’ coverage has been exceptional in its coverage. Also, take notice of the coverage done by broadcast news like KTLA or – dare I say it – Fox News.

It’s inspiring to see journalism pull together – you know, despite the fact that news sources were quick to confirm that Dorner was dead when in reality, the police haven’t even entered the cabin yet to claim the body. But even after reading and watching the news, anyone who is interested in the field will ultimately see just how hard it is to work as a reporter.

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About neilprotacio

Freelance journalist who just so happens to know what goes well with certain breads.
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