USC Annenberg Media Resources

Field Reporting Safety Protocols

Before you leave

  • Make sure someone knows where you are going and what you are doing.  Leave your cell phone number with someone who knows you are in the field.
  • Be sure your cell phone is charged.
  • Make sure you have some money on you, but don’t carry too much.
  • Always know where you are going.   Use navigation in your car or phone.   Just in case there is a problem with getting maps on your phone, print out a map of the area where you are going before you leave.
  • Always travel with a full tank of gas.
  • Think about what you are wearing and what you are carrying.  Would they stand out in the neighborhood in which you are reporting and make you a potential target?  Carry only the equipment you need.
  • Use the buddy system, especially if you are reporting in an area known to have higher crime rates or if you are doing any reporting at night.
  • If reporting in a neighborhood that is known to be dangerous, contact the police precinct for that area ahead of time.   Get information about spots that are dicey and let them know when you will be in the area.

In the field

  • Try not to do reporting at night unless there it’s absolutely necessary.  If you are in the field at night, take a buddy and be sure to park in a well-lit area.
  • Don’t leave equipment or other valuables in view when you park your car.  It’s an invitation for thieves.
  • When reporting in a neighborhood where you feel unsafe or that is unfamiliar, connect with a person or business in the area.   Restaurants are often good places to start.   Talk to people in the restaurant or other business.  That can serve the purpose of enlisting them in watching out for you or being a place to come for help, if needed.
  • Don’t wander around looking lost.   Always project that you have a destination or a purpose.
  • Avoid secluded locations.  Do your reporting and interviews in well-lit, public areas.
  • When walking around, stay alert to your surroundings.   Don’t walk around while you are talking on the phone or listening to music on headphones.  Be conscious of who is around you.
  • Walk with a self-assured stride.  Look confident and in control.  Keep your head up and look around; make brief eye contact.
  • If you hear someone walking behind you, turn around and look at them.  For tips on confronting danger, see this link from DPS:   https://adminopsnet.usc.edu/node/2199
  • When you are covering a crime scene, locate the public safety officer in charge.  Follow his or her advice.   Do not try to slip past police or fire barriers that have been set up.

 

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This is a resource hub to help student reporters at the Annenberg Media Center.

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