Flipping the Camera

In-Class Exercise: Flipping the Camera:
This exercise is designed to learn what it’s like to work on the “other” side as the person who responds to an incident or situation and is the “keeper of the information” and only allowed to release certain parts of information as the investigation is underway. Think of times when a breaking news situation is happening, the sheriff/cops/coroner/etc know more than they’re telling us, and they need to tread carefully because for various reasons they are not able to immediately release all the information they have or it may compromise their case investigation. Please follow the plan below, break into your group of five, read your case scenario, and then decide who will take on what role, who will speak, how you will present, and what info you are prepared to answer if asked, but that you may not present in the first place (“targeted withholding”). Even if you are not a presenter, do not worry, I’ll be monitoring groups and highly aware that everyone is participating in the gathering of information and coordination of this exercise. Good luck – and have fun with this exercise!

  • The Plan
    • Breaking into three groups of five
    • Review the case scenarios you receive via email (ALL FICTIONAL)
    • You have 45 mins to
      • Disseminate the information
      • Designate lead-off speaker, subsequent speakers, divvying-up information and how you will share
      • Each is a “breaking news” situations in progress – be prepared to answer on the fly, and given I simply made up these fictional stories, you can “enhance” on the fly, too
    • You have 8-10 mins each for your press conference and Q&A
    • (You may ask me questions during your prep period)

More direction

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  • Come up with a speaking plan which involves a minimum of three speakers, each handing off to another
  • Decide who then pitches to us in the crowd and say, “we can now take a few questions”
  • Be prepared to withhold what your info sheet says you cannot share, but, it’s up to YOU and YOUR TEAM how far you divulge info based on how we ask questions. If it’s clear we know something, and to be truthful you just need to get the facts out, sometimes that’s how it’s done. (In other words – hold back info as long as you have to, knowing once someone asks something, the cat’s out of the bag and it’s best to take control of the narrative versus looking like you’re withholding information.)


Group 2: Peter Vo, Kelly Fegan, Jenner Lyman, Wenjia Zhang (absent but can help research remotely)


All information can be found HERE: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1_-GEDdNkn15FIC1gaTeYgjc2FwPjquUwDaotizgIdlg/edit?usp=sharing


Advanced News Writing & Reporting Assignment – GROUP TWO


ON BACKGROUND ONLY:  A large contention of United Airlines staff based in Denver, heading to a conference in NYC, along with Megan Rapino and her wife Sue Bird (you find the link as to why they are often in Denver), as well as Nathaniel Rateliff & members of his band The Night Sweats (who just performed Sunday at Mission Ballroom, but also you figure out why they may have hung around longer in Denver) were among those on board a flight that crashed shortly after takeoff at DIA this morning, and while no one has said it, vibes are among those here – and the helicopter video that’s just been seen – it does not look like there are survivors. Zoo animals were on board. Few members of the public were on board as the flight was designed for privacy purposes, so for that reason (the stars, internal VIPs and the zoo animals, which require in-flight moves by animal caretakers to go from the regular cabin down into cargo several times a flight), the flight was not listed as a departing flight on the leaderboard at DIA, and reporters are already starting to ask why it’s an unlisted number and so mysterious.

POSSIBLE ROLES: DIA CEO or PIO, United Spokesperson, NTSB, FAA, Denver Zoo


  • On Friday morning, 10/29/21, a United 777 Dreamliner flight #5890 took off enroute to NYC at 8:04am. It had undergone deicing. The Boeing plane, which can hold up to 388 people, is believed to have had only approximately 100 passengers on board.
  • The flight was purposefully being kept at a small capacity due to the fact the flight was scheduled to carry three large animals from The Denver Zoo to the Bronx Zoo in NY, including a male and female zebra weighing 800lbs a piece and one infant giraffe which weighed about 300lbs, which had been abandoned by its mother, to be taken to a mother giraffe who had just lost her daughter with the hope the two might form a bond.
  • Additionally, the flight was set up by United Airlines
  • Due to the crash and investigation, all flights at DIA were immediately stopped by the FAA who is working in conjunction with the NTSB which has not declared a transition from search and rescue to recovery, plus, with weather conditions being as they are (cold, windy, light snowfall), flights coming and going – along with the noise of flights so close – can gravely affect the early stages of investigations this size.
  • RTD is transporting people from DIA to various locations as the flights are guaranteed by the FAA to at least be stopped until at least 6pm. Free round trips are being offered from DIA to downtown Denver nonstop for ticketed passengers.
  • ON BACKGROUND ONLY: Everyone is talking behind the scenes about the fact online, there are already references to the fact Megan Rapione is hosting Saturday Night Live and Rateliff is the musical guest a week from this Saturday on Nov. 6th. It’s pretty much a known thing that the stars show up at least a week in advance to attend the “afterparty” from the show the week prior, and then dive right into their show for the following week.


  • The flight took off on runway 8-east at 8:04am, earlier than scheduled. The flight was a privately scheduled charter and all occupants loaded on a private entry just off the United Officer’s Club on Concourse B. Every individual on board had gone through TSA security in the main concourse other than the four trained zoo-animal transport carriers who had loaded up the animals in the United Cargo Area 45-minutes prior, and gone through security at that location.
  • ON BACKGROUND ONLY: One person scheduled for the trip who was on the zoo transport team manifest did not show up and a different person showed up instead. The cargo team saw nothing wrong with this and allowed the swap as it was clear the three large animals needed four people to manage them. United is aware that there had been texts flying around between cargo and the private concourse gate agents about this issue, and the fact there were only two zebras scheduled, but three were brought on board. The transport and donation of these animals to the Bronx zoo were a part of United’s CEO’s annual “giving back” campaign, and under time pressure, and to keep the flight on schedule, a decision was made by a middle level official not to hold the flight back as the total weight amount was communicated to be safe.
    • If asked, yes, there were some VIPs on board, but at this time we are not confirming any names on the flight manifest.
    • If asked, yes, we are aware there was some sort of change in the zoo animal manifest, but nothing United can confirm at this time.
      • Zoo spokesperson can jump in and say she is aware three Zebras were brought to the airport this morning, even though originally only two were scheduled, and then mention they were sponsored by United Airlines as a gift from the airline’s CEO to the Bronx Zoo. (Essentially inadvertently create an open mouth insert foot moment where other speakers now have to CYA and move along, but press members may start asking questions.)
    • What we all saw is what we know, which is that the flight lifted up, and only made it about 100 feet in the air on runway 8E until it appeared to “shift” towards the back left and then crash into the ground just past the runway where the fuselage hit so hard, the left side appears to have collapsed into the right, and initially a fire broke out, but the fire was put out quickly and rescue teams came out to rescue anyone they could, but never was anyone seen coming off the plane and it appears to be still smoldering at this time, surrounded by fire trucks and ambulances. No one has been pulled from the rubble.


  • We have a list of all the United Airlines people who were on board, as well as all of our crew members, and the other VIPs and their managers/agents/etc. We are crosschecking the list with whose tickets were scanned at boarding at this time. United’s head of PR and Media are flying into Centennial Airport on a private charter and should be here by noon to handle the reveal – when the time is ready – to share that it appears these VIPs have died. Concurrently members of that team are working with the WNBA, The Denver Nuggets, FIFA, the WNST, SNL, and other PR folks for Rateliff, however, all of his people were on board, so we’re now working with the people at the Grammys to see if we can get their input on this presumed tragedy on how to best handle. Authorities in Colorado and hometowns for each of the VIPs are being briefed to conduct door knocks to let the families know it is believed they are deceased before we make the announcements, as well, of course, to those who are United and animal transport employees.


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