Donald W. Reynolds National Center For Business Journalism

Two Minute Tips

Five tips for covering transportation

July 6, 2015

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As people start their day or prepare for a big summer trip or vacation, they are going to want to know about their means of transportation. As a business reporter, you can provide readers with the information they need to make safe and economically sound choices. Here are our top five tips for reporting on transportation, airlines and travel:

1. Know the equipment.

Knowing the terminology is key to this beat. Understanding the difference between Boeing 737 and an Airbus A320 will help your credibility and ensure accuracy. Beyond the basic names, try to get at least a basic grasp of how they work, i.e. their parts, what their performance limit is and how they most often malfunction.

2. Dig into the data. All of it.

There is tons of data regarding transportation. Be sure to bookmark the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics and visit it frequently. Readers want to know things like how fast their train can go or how much weight their plane carries. You can also find valuable information regarding the financial aspect of travel. Finding relevant data will make your story stronger and impress your traveling audience.

3. Understand what can go wrong.

Transportation incidents happen regularly; it’s not glamorous but it’s necessary to cover these. Because media coverage of accidents can seem frantic and rushed, it’s important that, as a reporter, you understand what is happening. Learning about what protocol is for unscheduled landings, motor failures and other similar incidents will help your story stay above the fray.

4. Explore the transportation you cover.

Again, you can’t cover a topic you don’t know. Get out there and visit the airport, ride the bus, stand on the train platform. Doing so will give you up-close-and-personal look into the modes of transportation in you area. It will also help you meet your subjects and readers.

5. Report on the economic forces surrounding transportation.

The world of travel is a key player in the economic world. Consumers spend an incredible amount getting to and from their work, home and everywhere between. Travel is also, however, easily affected by outside economic forces. It’s the first to go come budget cuts and it relies heavily on a business’ success.

Want more? Download our “Guide to Business Beat Basics” for tips on covering money in transportation, airlines, travel and other beats.

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