Voluntary agreement for Volusia County reporters covering critical incidents
So as to not interfere with the peaceful resolution of a crisis situation, the news media should voluntarily restrict live coverage of law enforcement personnel involved in tactical operations prior to the resolution of the incident. This includes broadcasting live shots of tactical positions and sharpshooters, as well as pictures of hostage-takers or hostages. Pictures/shots are defined as any video or still photographs obtained from any source, including freelance videographers, stringers and citizens with home video cameras. To avoid tying up phone lines and complicating communication efforts with negotiators, the news media should also voluntarily refrain from contacting hostage-takers, by telephone or by any other means, during an ongoing crisis situation.
News helicopters will not be excluded from crisis situations unless their presence is having a negative impact on hostage negotiations or officer safety, affecting police communications or the aircraft itself is in danger. Pilots are requested to maintain a safe minimum distance of 1,000 feet elevation and 1 mile from the incident while covering these events. These distances are consistent with FAA regulations concerning temporary flight restrictions. Based on the specific threat presented, distances may be modified by law enforcement at the time of an incident.
The Sheriff’s Office will set the ground perimeter for general media coverage as close to the incident as is safe. At a minimum, the media will be allowed as close to the active scene as members of the public are permitted, and closer if determined to be safe by the Sheriff’s Office and coordinated through the Public Information Officer.
The Sheriff’s Office will provide a Public Information Officer at a central location to provide timely information throughout an emergency incident. A media staging area will be established along the scene’s outer perimeter where reporters can obtain information updates without interfering in tactical operations. (PLEASE REFER TO CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS PLAN FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS.)
The following guidelines for the coverage of ongoing crisis situations come directly from the Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation. A complete copy of their guidelines for news coverage can be obtained through their web site (http://www.rtdna.org) or by calling the Radio-Television News Directors Association & Foundation at (202)-659-6510.
In covering an ongoing crisis situation, journalists are advised to: