I suspect he’ll get a lot of flack for this, but NPPA President Sean Elliot is asking the question a lot of our audience is asking: do we really need so much media coverage of tragedies?
For the record, I’m with Elliot on this (and have talked with him about this issue). The last things the residents of Newtown, Conn., needed were hordes of journalists who knew nothing about their community marching through their streets, notebooks, microphones and cameras at the ready.
Did the story need to be covered? Absolutely. Did there need to be journalists there from across the country? Absolutely not.
Drawing a coverage circle is hard, but you know it when news happens outside of your area. Use this test: if your audience can’t immediately find a location on a map, you probably don’t need to send someone there. All you’re really doing is getting your own byline on a story. The local media will cover the story better since they will have the contacts already.
And, after the next big story breaks, they’ll still be there to cover the aftermath and that will be exponentially harder if the community has been overrun by folks looking for a byline, not looking to help.