Department of Homeland Security chief tells RTNDA gathering his department will begin embedding reporters during crises.
Addressing a ballroom full of broadcast journalists, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said DHS would begin an “embedded” reporter program during crises such as hurricanes. Such a plan would give reporters first-hand information about the government response to the crisis and would help in the flow of information to the public.
Chertoff was speaking at the RTNDF Luncheon at the annual conference of the Radio-Television News Directors Association in Las Vegas.
“We’re not in a battleground, so we’re not going to be censoring information,” Chertoff said. “What we don’t want is interference with our physical operationsÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦. On a day-to-day basis, it often looks like the media and government are squabbling with each other. But at the end of the day, we’re all on the same team,” Chertoff told the audience at the Las Vegas Hilton.
While acknowledging that his agency could have done a much better job during Hurricane Katrina, Chertoff said preparations are in high gear for a better response to this year’s hurricane season. Noting that he flew directly to Las Vegas from a morning meeting in Alabama, Chertoff announced that his department has now designated federal officials to serve as liaisons to state governors in hurricane-prone areas.
Chertoff also spoke about response plans for avian flu and earthquake disasters. He emphasized that in the event of an emergency, no government agency can provide immediate response to everyone in an affected area.
“You cannot expect that help is going to get there immediately. It could be 24, 48 or 72 hours,” he said, urging journalists to help the department communicate the message that anyone able to prepare for their own survival in case of emergency should do so.
In other news from the convention, the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation honored Rainer Hasters with the Barney Oldfield Distinguished Service Award.
Hasters is executive director of the RIAS Berlin Commission, which co-sponsors a program with RTNDF that gives journalists from Germany and the United States the opportunity to learn first-hand about each other’s culture, politics and practice of journalism. RIAS provides local radio and television news reporters and producers with invaluable contacts in Germany and Europe, while providing context on the social, economic and personal dynamics that link the United States and Germany.
“Since 1992, Rainer has graciously hosted more than 350 American radio and television reporters, producers, assignment editors and news directors in Berlin and across Germany,” says Barbara Cochran, RTNDF president. “He has done this with a keen focus, a sharp wit and a generous hand. That is why we are so happy today to be giving him this special honor.”
RTNDF Chairman Bob Priddy presented the award to Hasters at the Foundation Luncheon. The Barney Oldfield Award is named for RTNDF’s late founder, and goes to an individual who has contributed to the growth and success of RTNDF.