Breaking News


The NPR Scoop newsletter recently summarized the many ways NPR is covering Ebola, including work with station journalists and newsrooms. KERA in particular has been all over the story on-air and online since the first patient to be diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. showed up in Dallas.

Russell Gossett


  Floods, fires and earthquake can make the world seem like it's coming to an end. Then, there are those man-made catastrophes that end people's lives with a gun or explosive. Between mishaps of celebrities and politicians, "breaking news" can seem like an overused term in the era of the 24-hour news cycle. But there are certain instances where an event is unfolding and people really need that news immediately. Having an understanding of who those people are and what they need can help guide your coverage, and help people who are affected. 

How Breaking News Handbooks Guide Member Stations

Jun 18, 2014

  Mass shootings, wildfires, floods and super storms are just some of the crises that have become regular news. Many public radio newsrooms prepare for such events by creating a breaking news handbook that outlines the chain of command, level of emergency, job duties, contact information and other essentials that take the guesswork out of the crisis.

Happy summer, all. We have a lot to share with you this month, including recaps of recent webinars on breaking news coverage for lean newsrooms, how to use the new Quotable social media tool, and spotlights on work at VPR, WHYY and WSKG. 

How Lean Newsrooms Cover Breaking News

Jun 16, 2014

  Size is often considered an impediment to covering breaking news, but several newsrooms are using their resources strategically to provide information for the breaking news audience in times of crisis. In this webinar with West Virginia Public Broadcasting reporter Ashton Marra and KUNC digital media manager Jim Hill, we see key attributes of lean newsrooms that cover breaking news well. 

West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs via Flickr

When thousands of gallons of a chemical spilled into a river in West Virginia in January, leading to a water crisis that affected over 300,000 people, West Virginia Public Broadcasting provided comprehensive coverage on the radio, on television, on their site and on social media.

Do You Have a Breaking News Coverage Plan?

Dec 19, 2012
via flickr/Alfred Hermida (CC - BY)

You never know when there will be breaking news in your area, but that doesn’t mean your staff and site can’t be prepared when it does happen. Creating a breaking news plan will put you ahead of the game.

Here are five things to consider when creating a breaking news coverage plan: 

1. The Basics: 


-- Who will work and how do you contact them

Correction: This post has been updated to clarify the broadcast coverage that was available to listeners at the beginning of the fire. 

On the morning of June 9, the Colorado High Park wildfire near Fort Collins was just 40 acres. By the end of the day, the fire had consumed 8,000 acres and was zero percent contained. This was one of the worst forest fires in the state’s history. 

KUNC had the additional challenge of having a major transmitter in the burn area. 

Hours into their coverage, KUNC’s main broadcast on 91.5FM was knocked out when power to the transmitter went out. Photos of the charred area surrounding the transmitter reveal just how much damage was done. KUNC was able to broadcast on lower-powered channels two days later, which reached most of their primary coverage area, but they were still without their strongest broadcast frequency for more than two weeks.

Listeners were able to get news about the fire through KUNC's mulitple broadcast channels. But it turns out that KUNC had another channel that people were tuning into in what turned out to be record numbers:

Why Does the River of News Grow Audience? [VIDEO]

Apr 23, 2012

This may be the best, most informative, most inspiring 80 minutes of your day: NPR’s Matt Thompson explains what makes a dynamic public radio news website and what drives audience growth and audience engagement online. Watch the video