Public Health Emergency Preparedness
This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.
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Appendix D. Questions Asked by Journalists During a Crisis1
Journalists are likely to ask who, what, where, when, why, and how; (1) what happened; (2) what
caused it to happen; (3) what does it mean. 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 that 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 that 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?
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?
54) Has anyone made mistakes?
55) How certain are you?
56) Have you told us everything that 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 or 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 are being taken to avoid a similar event?
76) What lessons have you learned?
77) What does this all mean?
1. From: Covello, V.T. Keeping Your Head in a Crisis: Responding to Communication Challenges Posted by Bioterrorism and
Emerging Infectious Diseases. Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), 2002.
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