Thursday, September 08, 2005

Preparing for disaster

After Katrina, we're going to be spending a lot more time looking at not only how to keep operating after a disaster, but how to prepare for covering disasters.

Recent research done in the Southeast, for instance, found that fewer than one in five newsrooms actually had a plan in place for covering disasters.

Of course, little can compare with Katrina, but there are many things we can do to get ready for when disaster strikes.
I've written several Common Sense Journalism columns on the subject, based on my years with AP and other news organizations preparing for and covering such events. The first two, from 2002, detail how to prepare a disaster plan as we did at AP. The last one revisits that after the most recent Graniteville train wreck and chemical spill.

They can be found at:

Anticipating Disaster: http://www.jour.sc.edu/news/csj/CSJ03Apr02.htm
Anticipating Disaster II: http://www.jour.sc.edu/news/csj/CSJ04May02.htm
Prepaing for Disaster - A look back after Graniteville: http://www.jour.sc.edu/news/csj/CSJApr05.html

Another site I've come across that might be useful is run by a professor of law and libraries at the University of Houston. While Master of Disaster is geared more for corporate and library folks -- and is more of the how to keep running after things hit -- there are some useful ideas that should stimulate your thinking, especially the one-hour disaster plan.

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