Note from IBA Executive Director Dave Arland
Thank you for everything you are doing to keep your listeners and viewers informed, calm, and ready during this national crisis. As your association, we want to share some resources and advice that you may find useful as you communicate to an anxious public.
For all broadcasters, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is providing tools and resources, including radio and television public service announcements (PSAs) in English and in Spanish, to help stations accurately cover this issue and prepare for the impact on your staff, community and business.
The “Coronavirus Response Toolkit,” available on this link to all broadcasters, includes PSAs, editorial contacts, advice for managing your stations during this crisis, and even advice on identifying trusted sources and social media accounts. The Public Service Announcements inform audiences how they can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases and learn more at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus website, CDC.gov/COVID19. The tools include guidance on prevention and precautions, creating response management teams and trusted sources.
We urge you to clear some inventory to air these PSAs as often as possible. As COVID-19 presents more challenges to local communities, our audiences and policymakers look to broadcasters to provide accurate and timely information to help keep the public safe, and Congress will recognize and appreciate the leadership of broadcasters in this effort.
The IBA is still operating in Carmel, and we are making plans – to be shared early next week – for maintaining the March 28 Spring Career Fair, but in a virtual mode. More details are coming soon for both our member stations and for job seekers.
Our broadcast journalists who are covering this story have a unique role during a crisis. A frequent speaker at IBA events for journalists is Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute (email@example.com). The public is starting to freak out, says Tompkins. “Don’t add to it with screaming clickbait headlines and scary generic images.”
He believes – and I agree with him – that newsrooms should tone down their coronavirus coverage while still reporting responsibly:
- “It’s time we start thinking carefully about the headlines and images we use to cover this story. Context is critical, and there are important local stories to be told that don’t emphasize the virus’ doom and gloom.“Let’s be clear: There is no law that says every time journalists mention the word ‘virus’ that they have to precede it with the word ‘deadly.’ It is true some people die. But we don’t call the traffic jams every day in every city ‘deadly traffic jams’ even though somebody will die every day in traffic.
- “Stories that explain ways to prevent being exposed are less scary than stories that do not.
- “People want to know ‘what to do.’ And even if you have written and reported the recommendations a hundred times already, keep doing it.”
I’m sure that our sales teams are deeply concerned about clients who may be tempted to cancel their commitments. Sales presenter Mark Levy, who has also spoken at past IBA events, has some great advice to consider here.
IBA Board Member Becky White, who serves the Salem, Indiana community on WSLM Radio, sent over some good words from radio consultant Gary Berkowitz (firstname.lastname@example.org). Gary writes that there are four things that every music station can do – and should do – with the coronavirus situation. His advice is also pertinent for our TV members:
- Acknowledge it. There’s no getting away from this one. Every listener to every radio station expects to hear about the virus and what impact it will have on them and their local community. Short on staff? Do whatever you must do to make this coverage a priority, no matter what the format, no matter what your staffing looks like.
- Local, Local, Local. At least once an hour run a “Corona Virus Update” It can include updates that come down from health organizations, national government officials and most important, news on what is happening locally. Cancellations are mounting up daily. Events are being cancelled or postponed. Colleges are sending students home for the semester! This is the kind of information that radio excels in covering and listeners expect to hear. Talk about mass appeal. This is an outbreak that will affect every listener you have.
- Let your listeners know you will “break in” when necessary. Since most formats depend heavily on at work listeners, air promos and liners that let your listener know that they can listen to you while they work, and you will “break in” when news breaks. This may keep them with your station during work hours versus moving to another station.
- Prepare for the worst. What would happen if local authorities quarantined your studios? Are you prepared to stay on-the-air from either an alternate location or can your people access remotely? It may sound far-fetched, but it could happen. Now is the best time to consider what you would do in such an emergency. It might only take one infected person to close down and quarantine the station.
Thank you, again, for all that you are doing – including lifting people’s spirits during this difficult time.
Indiana Broadcasters Association
NAB Coronavirus Toolkit
As local radio and television broadcasters navigate the editorial and operations challenges presented by COVID-19, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is providing tools and resources to help stations accurately cover this issue and prepare for the impacts on your staff, community and business.
Homeland Security Letters for Broadcasters
The National Association of Broadcasters today circulated two letters from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber-security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that should facilitate access to your studios and transmitters if/when there are government mandated closures due to COVID-19.
P1 Learning Sales Training for Uncertain Times
Free to IBA members, P1 Learning has teamed up with partners, ej4, to provide free access to a few courses to help alleviate some of the fears around the coronavirus, tips on planning for a pandemic and what to say to a client or potential client that is afraid to advertise in these uncertain times.
First Response Broadcaster ID Form
The IBA wants you to be aware of a federal law that allows broadcasters on-going access to their facilities. 42 U.S.C. § 5189e (a)(1)(A)(i) and (b) defines broadcasters as “essential service providers.” The statute allows essential service providers access to their places of operation in order to “respond to an emergency or major disaster.”
This means that essential broadcast station personnel should be allowed access to their studios, transmitters, towers, and other places of business for purposes of staying on the air.
Broadcasters have a critical role to inform their viewers and listeners about COVID-19 and other matters of public safety. This applies to individual stations in their local communities, as well as to stations acting as part of a statewide network. If circumstances warrant it, individual stations must be ready to function as part of the Emergency Alert System. To accomplish these things, we recommend that essential personnel carry station identification with them at all times. If asked, they should say they are a broadcast employee traveling to the station, which is an essential service provider under federal law and which is required to provide EAS information to the public. They can also display the attached letters.
Additionally, Indiana’s “First Response Broadcaster” legislation, which has been in place since 2014, allows certified staff from Indiana Radio and TV stations access to critical broadcast sites in times of emergencies impacting Indiana citizens. The legislation allows for credentialed personnel to cross police lines in designated counties, if necessary, to keep stations on-the-air during emergencies.
If your station’s engineering personnel need First Response Broadcaster credentials, please fill out the online and hard copy forms available.
Broadcast News Reporting Guide from Poynter Institute
- “How Newsrooms Can Tone Down Their Coronavirus Coverage While Still Reporting Responsibly.” Read here.
- “AP Stylebook Tips on the Coronavirus.” Read here.
- Tips for working from home. Read here.
- How journalists can fight stress from covering the coronavirus. Read here.
- Avoiding misinformation during a pandemic. Read here
- Sign up for a daily COVID-19 newsletter from Poynter.
Indiana State Health Department
The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is closely monitoring an outbreak of the 2019 novel (new) coronavirus or COVID-19. This new respiratory virus was first identified in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province and continues to infect people in China and around the world, including the United States. https://www.in.gov/isdh/28470.htm
This link takes you to the CDC and has information on the virus and guidance for businesses and employers. It links back to every issue related to this virus.
National Institute of Health
Dr. Tony Fauci is the NIAID Director at NIH. He is the most respected person in the United States on this virus as well as other issues. He has been a public servant for many years under numerous administrations.
Surgeon General of the United States
Dr. Jerome Adams is considered a top expert in the United States and could help us identify other experts across the country.