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Keeping Safe While Reporting

Student journalists are not required to do any field reporting that makes them unsafe. If you feel unsafe, find an alternate reporting method or an alternate assignment. Many assignments can be done remotely. Here’s some advice fromthe BU journalism faculty:

1. If possible, conduct interviews remotely on Zoom, Skype or by phone.

2. Use smartphone recording apps like TapeACall.

3. Ask your subjects to use their smartphones to record themselves as they answer your questions and then send you the file. You might have to talk them through downloading the audio file.

4. If appropriate, direct your subject remotely in photographing/filming/recording their own situation/actions.

5. Avoid interviewing people with COVID-19 face-to-face or going to places where there are known people with the disease. Any such interviews should be conducted remotely.

6. Ask remote interviewee to give you a virtual tour of their home, office, workplace with Zoom, Facetime or other technology to get visual ambience. Have them record on smart phone for ambi sound.

7. Ask interviewees if they have recordings and/or videos of their music, speech, sports event or any other sound or images relevant to the story that they could send to you.

8. See if you can attend court hearings or press conferences remotely. (You can request audio for Mass Trial Courts through, https://www.fortherecord.com/massgov/)

9. Use CNN’s video feed for editing and writing assignments. Also have access to wires, photographs etc. through our Associated Press license https://newsroom.ap.org/home. Instructions can be found at http://www.bu.edu/comtech/.

10. If you are heading out, always use social distancing and wear a mask.

11. Follow all local, state and federal guidelines (some links below.) Be aware of how these can change rapidly.

12. Stay in ventilated spaces, preferably outside.

13. If you must go inside, limit the time to as brief as possible

14. If you feel unsafe, leave the premises.

15. Wash hands frequently, especially after touching anything touched by others.

16. Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water. Wash your hands as soon as possible.

17. Do not shake hands, including with interviewees.

18. Stay home if you are sick.

19. Photogs and videographers, look for a high angle when shooting photos and video to keep distance from the crowd.

20. Make good use of a long lens.

21. Broadcast journalists, use a boom pole to get your microphone closer to someone. Sanitize before & after.

22. Ask interviewee to drive to a location and stay in their car. Meet them there, attach your microphone to a ski pole, (broom handle, whatever you’ve got) and cable back to recorder, at least 6 feet away outdoors, wearing a mask. Make sure the mic is inside the car to avoid wind noise.

Additional Resources:

SPJ: https://www.spj.org/safety.asp
RTDNA: https://www.rtdna.org/safety
WHO: here
CDC: here
Troll-busters.com: Video on staying safe covering protests.
From Prof. Johnson: Pls read this document about Reporting in a Pandemic