GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

newsIt’s difficult to prepare for a crisis, particularly one that involves media coverage.

To help prepare, here is a list of the most commonly asked questions by the media to serve as a general guide.

Big? picture, journalists are likely to ask six primary questions in a crisis: who, what, where, when, why, and how. They will relate to five broad topics:

  1. What happened?
  2. What caused it to happen?
  3. What does it mean?
  4. Who is to blame?
  5. What are you doing to ensure it does not happen again?

Of course, only some will apply but this comprehensive list of questions is a good start to prepare you and your team for the next crisis:

77 Questions Commonly Asked by Journalists During a Crisis

Specific questions include:

  1. What is your name and title?
  2. What are your job responsibilities?
  3. What are your qualifications?
  4. Can you tell us what happened?
  5. When did it happen?
  6. Where did it happen?
  7. Who was harmed?
  8. How many people were harmed?
  9. Are those who were harmed getting help?
  10. How certain are you about this information?
  11. How are those who were harmed getting help?
  12. Is the situation under control?
  13. How certain are you that the situation is under control?
  14. Is there any immediate danger?
  15. What is being done in response to what happened?
  16. Who is in charge?
  17. What can we expect next?
  18. What are you advising people to do?
  19. How long will it be before the situation returns to normal?
  20. What help has been requested or offered from others?
  21. What responses have you received?
  22. Can you be specific about the types of harm that occurred?
  23. What are the names of those who were harmed?
  24. Can we talk to them?
  25. How much damage occurred?
  26. What other damage may have occurred?
  27. How certain are you about damages?
  28. How much damage do you expect?
  29. What are you doing now?
  30. Who else is involved in the response?
  31. Why did this happen?
  32. What was the cause?
  33. Did you have any forewarning that this might happen?
  34. Why wasn’t this prevented from happening?
  35. What else can go wrong?
  36. If you are not sure of the cause, what is your best guess?
  37. Who caused this to happen?
  38. Who is to blame?
  39. Could this have been avoided?
  40. Do you think those involved handled the situation well enough?
  41. When did your response to this begin?
  42. When were you notified that something had happened?
  43. Who is conducting the investigation?
  44. What are you going to do after the investigation?
  45. What have you found out so far?
  46. Why was more not done to prevent this from happening?
  47. What is your personal opinion?
  48. What are you telling your own family?
  49. Are all those involved in agreement?
  50. Are people overreacting?
  51. Which laws are applicable?
  52. Has anyone broken the law?
  53. How certain are you about whether laws have been broken?
  54. Has anyone made mistakes?
  55. How certain are you that mistakes have not been made?
  56. Have you told us everything you know?
  57. What are you not telling us?
  58. What effects will this have on the people involved?
  59. What precautionary measures were taken?
  60. Do you accept responsibility for what happened?
  61. Has this ever happened before?
  62. Can this happen elsewhere?
  63. What is the worst case scenario?
  64. What lessons were learned?
  65. Were those lessons implemented?
  66. What can be done to prevent this from happening again?
  67. What would you like to say to those that have been harmed and to their families?
  68. Is there any continuing danger?
  69. Are people out of danger? Are people safe?
  70. Will there be inconvenience to employees or to the public?
  71. How much will all this cost?
  72. Are you able and willing to pay the costs?
  73. Who else will pay the costs?
  74. When will we find out more?
  75. What steps need to be taken to avoid a similar event?
  76. Have these steps already been taken? If not, why not?
  77. What does this all mean?


(Reprinted from: Covello, V.T., Keeping Your Head In A Crisis: Responding To Communication Challenges Posed By Bioerrorism And Emerging Infectious Diseases. Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), 2003 in press)




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