Building a reporting & newsroom go bag

It’s important to put together your emergency supplies and disaster reporting equipment in advance. Here’s a guide and template to use: go bags & newsroom equipment tracker spreadsheet. Access this article as Googledoc here.

One essential component in preparing for an emergency is putting together physical “go bags,” for individual reporters and your newsroom. Ideally, these can be kept at the newsroom and with individual staff, and will include useful tools and equipment for basic safety and newsgathering during a disaster. These will be similar to the type of “go bags” you might prepare for your own home or family, but prioritizing additional supplies and equipment that are short-term essentials for reporting in an emergency.

For individual people, these might be kept in a vehicle, at home, or at their desk. For your newsroom, you should include supplies to be used if your newsroom becomes a place to stay, as well as if you need to evacuate that location. You may be in a situation where individuals are all working remotely in different locations, or one in which the newsroom is the safest location for people to work and sleep. You may consider organizing supplies and equipment into “go bags” and “stay bags” for different circumstances although they might contain similar supplies.

What exactly you want to include in these go bags will vary based on the types of emergencies that might occur, your overall budget, and what kind of reporting you might be doing. It can be useful to think about these in terms of importance and urgency. For example, there are certain supplies that will be important no matter what, including water, food, and first aid equipment, back up power supplies and additional connectivity equipment such as battery packs or mobile hotspots. You will also want certain types of safety equipment specific to disasters in your area, such as Nomex clothing for wildland fires; consulting with local emergency response professionals and undergoing local training will help you identify these specific supplies in advance.

There are guides that you can use for general emergency preparedness, but part of your emergency planning should include identifying specific equipment for newsgathering, including identifying different ways you can share information and reporting if your primary distribution method is unavailable due to the emergency. For example, if you typically publish in print, but want to livestream for breaking news or because the road to where the printing equipment is located has been shut down. 

During a disaster, it may be difficult to access supplies, and so you should be prepared for situations where you are unable to leave the area, or to bring your own supplies if trying to access an area where roads or supplies have been cut off. At a minimum, you should put together the basic supplies you anticipate needing for an emergency lasting up to 72 hours, but you could consider putting together enough to last three weeks if you are in a more remote or rural area. As you are developing your emergency plan and map, you will also want to identify places in your area that may be useful for reporting during an emergency, including official shelters and hospitals which may have back-up power or internet.

If you have additional time and resources, you should add in additional supplies as needed, whether to expand the amount of time you are prepared to be self-reliant, or with additional equipment that may be more expensive or more “nice to have” than essential supplies.

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