A Letter to Journalists in Harm's Way

Open Letters,

hurricane from space

Dear Journalists, 

In times of natural disasters, you provide information that keeps families safe. You provide comfort in hopeless situations. Your voice is calm and confident, even when everything else might seem out of control. 

As we reflect on the recent damage caused by Hurricane Fiona in Puerto Rico and elsewhere, and as Florida and the Gulf Coast prepare for what Hurricane Ian may unleash, there are two important messages we want to convey: 

1. Stay safe. 

2. Thank you. 

The first is always important, but especially during hurricanes and other natural disasters. RTDNA's Coverage Guidelines on Hurricanes and Other Natural Disasters urges news managers and journalists to take extreme caution. 

The guidelines note, specifically, “During a disaster, make sure your home and family are secure before reporting for work” and “Journalists should keep in mind that their personal safety comes first.” Your work as a journalist is important, but it cannot continue if you do not protect yourself.

News managers and reporters on assignment: Please review the guidelines as you make any coverage decisions. 

You play a vital role in your community. And while we know you will exercise extreme caution in all scenarios, we also recognize there is an inherent danger with any storm coverage. 

Thank you for your efforts to inform, and assure, your community. Your work will save lives. 

Be smart. Be safe. And godspeed. 

Tim Scheld

Dan Shelley
RTDNA President and CEO