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media coverage/reporters

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    i was interested in hearing what you all think about the media coverage of fires and incidents in your area- specificly, how well or poorly both airborne and ground reporters do at describing (live) what firefighters or paramedics are ACTUALLY doing to suppress a blaze or attend to victums at an incident. when you watch live coverage of an incident in your metro area, are you usually rolling your eyes in disgust as a helicopter reporter describes what they think they are seeing, or are you impressed with the knowledge some reporters can demonstrate?

    in my area (chicago), it can go both ways- though the reporters usually disappoint. speculation is common, as in the case of reporting "firefighters are getting a handle on it" because there is less smoke than during the last report.

    just a simple example, perhaps you all have thoughts about it?


  • #2
    Around here the only kind of fire we get the news choppers out on are wildland fires. Generally they come fairly close to describing what's going on at ground level. I don't think they know that most wildfires aren't put out with hoses from a truck but with a bunch of guys with hand tools.


    • #3
      Education is a dangerous thing.

      Have you appointed a Media Liason person?

      Do they regularly send out info to the media, or answer generic questions?

      Have you arranged meetings with them so you can explain normal tactics for various events etc?

      Discussed where and when they can be of assistance to you as distinct from being a PITA?

      Just a simple thing, but it seems to work.
      Psychiatrists state 1 in 4 people has a mental illness.
      Look at three of your friends, if they are ok, your it.


      • #4
        We get no News coverage at all in London unless it is a Multi-Fatal, a really big job (20Pumps/6th Alarm) or somewhere famous or involving a famous person...i.e small hotel fire where some Hollywood star was staying mad ethe News.

        To be honest the rest of the stuff is so routine it isn't Newsworthy. It makes me laugh when you see news report from some of the small rural Towns in the UK...it makes the County News if a house gets burnt out...and we are like "Jesus, we had three of those this week"

        As an example the last BBC London news story about us was a Month ago when we had the two 20 Pump fires going on at once, the story was posted here with my pics. There has been nothing since until today when 30 acres of Grass and Heathland went up in East London... there was another similar sized grass fire going on at the same time (8 Pumps/3rd Alarm) but ti didn't make the News...the difference? The one that got mentioned was part of the Historic Epping Forest (Dick Turpin and all that) that runs into NE London. The other actually caused more damage and took out a few garden sheds, garages etc...but with in an unknown suburb so wasn't an issue!!!

        The long and the short...Fire isn't big news over by us.
        Steve Dude
        IACOJ member

        London Fire Brigade...."Can Do"

        'Irony'... It's a British thing.


        • #5
          How I wanna use the Media......

          If you have ever been in Southern California, you know how the Media is....... I don't imagine it is any different round the globe........
          In my opinion, LAFD and LACoFD use the Media the best I have ever seen. They have educated the Media and kept them informed of various tactics that each Department uses. Through this interaction, they have gotta hours of positive publicity.
          If I were a Fire Chief, I would try to model after this........
          "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

          Life on the Truck (Quint) is good.....

          Eat til you're sleepy..... Sleep til you're hungry..... And repeat.....


          • #6
            One of the hats I wear at my FD is that of PIO.

            Having a good working relationship with the media is a lot like growing a garden.

            You have to...

            till the soil.. .make the initial contact with the media

            plant the seed... give them the information that you want the public to know

            water the garden... invite the media to open houses, to cover stories about specialized training, etc.

            pull the weeds... keep them on the up and up, and let them know when they get the story wrong, not by yelling and screaming but by educating the media, then give them the correct info.

            keep fertilizing.. stay in contact, make an effort to grow the relationship

            then...enjoy the flowers of good public relations!

            Why do you think the PD always gets what they want, while we have to deal with the scraps?
            Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 08-12-2006, 05:02 PM.
            ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
            Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


            • #7
              That is sooooo true Gonz....

              We don't have the problem of news choppers unless it is a really big deal and they come out of Madison, WI or Minneapolis, MN. They have a few times on a large bus crash on the Interstate or a plane crash type of deal.

              Usually we just have ambulance chasing tv cameramen. We have a good working relationship, at least right now. It is a give and take deal. They give us the room we need to work and we will give them the interview or close access when we can. So far it is a good thing.

              A big key is education. Tell the reporter what they are seeing and why they are doing what they are doing.
              Jason Knecht
              Township Fire Dept., Inc.
              Eau Claire, WI

              IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
              EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!


              • #8
                Here's a perfect example of what Dickey was talking about. You have to educate the media or otherwise they have no idea what they're talking about, just like this reporter.


                The biggest problem is the turnover that most stations have. Once you get one who knows what you're talking about they move on to bigger pastures.
                Steve Dragon
                FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
                Volunteers are never "off duty".


                • #9
                  We don't get coverage mostly. We're volunteer and I wish we had the bodies to do the media program I want to have. We have enough cheesy dailys and weeklys to get media if we did it ourselves, but we can't do fire/rescue and media relations.
                  I am a highly trained professional and can find my :: expletive deleted:: with either hand in various light conditions.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DonSmithnotTMD
                    We don't get coverage mostly. We're volunteer and I wish we had the bodies to do the media program I want to have. We have enough cheesy dailys and weeklys to get media if we did it ourselves, but we can't do fire/rescue and media relations.
                    That's where you're wrong Don. You don't need "cheesy" dailies or weeklies to "do" media relations.

                    Do you have a local newspaper, daily or weekly? If it's a weekly paper they're always looking for something to print even if it's something you didn't write. I don't mean to steal an article but you can't get "fill in the blanks" articles from both the NFPA and the EverReady Turn Your Clock, Change your Battery programs. All you, or someone, has to do is re-type the article with your company's and officer's names and you can look like a pro in no time.

                    They have seasonal press releases so even if you send something out 4-8 times a year you can start a relationship with the media. Once you have that established you can build on it. They may call your station for advice on a story.

                    Our local TV station called me 3 weeks ago after we had a house fire in a neighboring township caused by a gas grill. They wanted to do a story on gas grill safety and even though it wasn't our fire, we assisted, they called us, not the initial company. Why? We had the relationship with the station.

                    If you're not in a major market it doesn't take much to "do" the media thing.

                    Try it and see. Good luck.
                    Steve Dragon
                    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
                    Volunteers are never "off duty".


                    • #11
                      We are located in what you might call a small to medium size TV market, so the field reporters for the three network affiliates are usually young with little or no experience in covering Emergency Services. The stories they file can tend to be a little strange, so we do our best to inform them in clear and concise terms.

                      We allow the media safe access to scenes, except on those occasions when command says otherwise (ie: plane crashes, hazmat situations, etc,). We have a good relationship with the media, understanding that they have a job to do ... we try to relay the message "You make us look good and we'll let help you do your job"


                      • #12
                        Chicago being the third largest media market in the U.S. has plenty of helicopters flying around everyday, especially during the morning and afternoon rush hours. The media does a fair (average) job of covering incidents. Some are better then others. Fires get on the news quite often depending on how busy a news day it is. There are a few "stringers" that respond to fires and then sell the footage to news outlets. All in all the coverage is not too bad in my opinion. The newscasters dont know squat about firefighting, but the traffic reporters in the choppers do ok most of the time.
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