How to cover protests: Panel offers tips, lessons for packed classroom

Students and professional journalists packed a classroom at the University of Minnesota recently to hear tips and lessons about covering protests.

The Sept. 27 panel, presented by MNSPJ and other organizations, offered stories and advice for preparing for and reporting on these key news events.

“You don’t know if you’re going to be there for 30 minutes or three weeks,” Doualy Xaykaothao, an MPR News reporter, told the crowd.

Lindsey Seavert, an MNSPJ board member, moderated the discussion. In addition to Xaykaothao, the panelists included Mark Anfinson, a media and First Amendment attorney; Rod Adams, of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change; Officer Corey Schmidt, a Minneapolis police spokesman; and Anthony Souffle, a Star Tribune photojournalist.

Several panelists talked about the importance of building relationships with the people who organize protests. “If you have time, go to these community meetings” so that by the time a demonstration occurs, you know the activists involved, Adams said.

Photos by Xavier Wang, of the University of Minnesota’s chapter of SPJ

Souffle listed tools he’s used to cover protests: a helmet, a gas mask, a bullet-proof vest. But most importantly, “education and experience,” he said.

If you missed the event, check out the live video, recorded by the fine folks at Midwest Emmys:



The panel was sponsored by the Minnesota Journalism Center at the UMN Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication, the UMN student chapter and Minnesota professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, SAG-AFTRA, NABET-CWA and the Minnesota Newspaper & Communications Guild.

Finally, check out the Guild’s tips offered at the event:

Tips for Covering a Protest