Friday, June 22, 2007

Future reporters report to HQ

Mary Kay Quinlan's beat reporting class, Journalism 302, will be paying a visit to the police department later this morning. I think we've been hosting these visits for at least 7 years--since we moved into our new headquarters facility back in 2000.

The police beat is a staple of news reporting. If you stop and think about it, a huge amount of the content on the nightly news deals with crime, disorder, traffic collisions, and the police. Any new journalist will inevitably spend some time covering the cop shop, and for some, it will be a focus of their career. The police, likewise, rely on the media for many things: accurate reporting that avoids rumors, timely notification to the public of safety and crime prevention information, stories that generate tips and leads. Cultivating positive relationships with the press can help protect the police from ill-informed or malicious criticism, can help sustain support and respect for the police, and can build a better appreciation in the community for the challenges police departments confront.

Our Public Information Officer, Officer Kacky Finnell and I, generally try to give the students some practical information about how to interact effectively with local police agencies so they can get their job done without annoyance. Personal relationships are important, and simply introducing yourself to the key contacts in advance of any need is always a good idea. Understanding the jurisdiction and organization of the local agencies is important, as is a good knowledge of the basics of criminal justice: what's a preliminary hearing, who sets bond, where does one find public records like criminal histories, search warrant affidavits, arrest affidavits and the like.

Oh, and reporters ought to carry writing materials. I usually tell the students about the first time a reporter showed up to interview me and needed to borrow a pen (it's happened several times since then.) This story inevitably causes the instructor, Ms. Quinlan, to laugh. Come to think of it, she laughs awfully easily at quips and stories she's heard repeatedly. I notice that one of her fields of expertise is oral history. Wow, does LPD ever have a great oral history of humor. I probably should blog about that.

1 comment:

JoeMerchant24 said...

Chief, I think you've been doing these visits longer than just seven years. I hate to make you feel old, but I recall standing around your desk as an (albeit older then normal) J-student longer ago than seven years.