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Covering Your Own Story: A Conversation with WDBJ Staff

About This Course

When two journalists from WDBJ were fatally shot by a disgruntled former colleague while they were on assignment for a feature story in Moneta, Virginia, their newsroom rallied to assemble a remarkable response.

WDBJ's Jeffrey Marks, President and General Manager; Kelly Zuber, Director of News and Digital Services; and Kim McBroom, morning anchor, share lessons from their actions in the midst of tragedy.

What Will I Learn:

  • How to break the news to the public
  • How to report the unfolding story while also grieving
  • How to deal with the crush of outside media
  • How WDBJ made decisions about what images to show
  • What the back office support looked like- how other people at WDBJ pitched in
  • How anchors were able to maintain composure throughout the day

Course Instructor

Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins

Al Tompkins is Senior Faculty/Broadcast and Online at The Poynter Institute. He is the author of Aim for the Heart: A Guide for TV Producers and Reporters, which is being used by more than 130 universities' journalism departments around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @atompkins.

Tompkins has more than 40 years of experience as a journalist, writer and journalism teacher who teaches in seminars at Poynter and workshops and conferences around. He has been a presenter at national conventions for IRE, RTDNA, NABJ, NAHJ, AAJA, Unity, NLGJA, PRNDI and NPPA. Since 1998, he has taught seminars and workshops in 48 states and four countries.

He joined Poynter in 1998 after 25 years as a journalist, including serving as a reporter, investigative reporter, director of special projects and investigations and then was appointed news director, WSMV Nashville. Under his direction, WSMV was Nashville's leading news station. His hour-long documentary, “Saving Stefani,” was featured as a special Dateline NBC and was awarded the 1999 Clarion Award.

During his two and a half decades as a journalist, Tompkins has won The National Emmy, The Peabody Award (group award), the Japan Prize, The American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel for Court Reporting, seven National Headliner Awards, three Gabriel Awards, two Iris Awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Award for international reporting and the Governor's Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

From 1999-2006, Tompkins and Bob Steele co-authored four editions of the Radio Television Digital News Association's Newsroom Ethics workbook and tape series, which was presented in workshops in 26 U.S. cities.