Happy Sunday everyone. Last week was marked by shootings that left the city on edge. Local officials and politicians scrambled to address the ongoing wave of mass shootings. The Inquirer’s managing editor Patrick Kerkstra gives us a peek behind the scenes to talk about how The Inquirer covered these shootings in the Q&A below.
Each week we go behind the scenes with one of our reporters or editors to discuss their work and the challenges they face along the way. This week we chat with managing editor Patrick Kerkstra, who directed The Inquirer’s coverage of the police mass shooting and standoff that gripped the city last week.
Could you briefly walk us through how the newsroom handled this officer-involved shooting to give readers some context on how many journalists were involved?
The most important first step is to get reporters and visual journalists to the scene as quickly as possible. The early reports on unfolding stories like these — scanner chatter, social media, etc. — is something you look at closely and consider, but it’s vital to get journalists on scene. As it became clear how big of a story this was, more journalists got involved, from every corner of the newsroom. In all, easily 80 Inquirer journalists have had a hand in reporting, telling and distributing this story.
What are some fundamental and important steps journalists take when covering news of this magnitude -- news that captures the eyes of the country?
Getting the basic facts down is the most important first step, and that can be challenging in the early hours of stories like these. In chaotic breaking news situations, bad information is everywhere. The night of the shooting, for instance, it took a lot of time and intense reporting simply to identify we were reporting on the right Maurice Hill.
Why should readers come to The Inquirer for this kind of reporting? How does local news stand out against national outlets that can often dominate TV screens, social media and smartphones?
We had the most up-to-date, reliable coverage of the shooting throughout the long standoff and in the days that have followed. That coverage is brought to our audience by reporters with deep sourcing and years of experience covering this community. National TV had helicopter footage and pundits, and by the next morning, they’d moved on to other stories. Our reporting on this story has just begun.
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