I’m a tv reporter who worked from home; here’s what I learned
SPOKANE, Wash.– On Thursday night, I was giving a live report on the local news from my iPhone at my kitchen table.
That was how my experimental day working from home ended. Keep reading to see how it all started.
Health officials across the globe are urging people to work from home and avoid large crowds as the deadly Coronavirus continues to spread. Let me tell you, I never thought I’d work from home as a journalist.
The entire notion seemed like such a novel idea. At least that’s what I thought before I spent the day working from home as a multimedia journalist, aka a reporter.
The company I work for, Morgan Murphy Media, wanted to test whether it was possible for a reporter to completely produce a story without leaving home. That includes writing, conducting interviews, editing, sending video for playback on the news and also doing a live shot. 4 News Now Executive News Director Melissa Luck thought I’d be a great guinea pig.
So, I spent Thursday working from my house. I learned SO MUCH. But before that, a little background.
Our jobs are hands-on. A normal day working as a reporter/multimedia journalist includes coming into the newsroom, meeting with the team, driving around the Inland Northwest to shoot video and interview people, writing scripts, editing video, going live in a show.
You get the idea.
To be clear, I’ve worked remotely before. There have been multiple times where I park on the side of the road in a remote part of the state, edit video from my car and use a hotspot on my iPhone to send it back to the station. But even in situations like that, I still met my interviewees somewhere and spent a lot of time in the community getting video.
The coronavirus outbreak has the company I work for rethinking the way we do that work. What would happen in a worst case scenario if you couldn’t leave your house? How would we tell stories? Could we still deliver the news people need?
I set out to answer those questions and more for my company and other journalists who may need to do this one day.
I brought some gear home with me from the station Wednesday night and didn’t return to the newsroom for more than 24 hours.
I started my day Thursday by calling into the morning meeting to pitch my stories. I usually drive to work and do that in-person.
I was assigned two stories for the 5 and 6 o’clock shows that night. The first one would be talking to someone about what their experience has been like working from home. The second story would show my process of getting that story on the air from the comfort of my own home.
I contacted an interview subject using Facebook and set up a time to do a video call. On a normal day, I would’ve met that person at his house, done the interview in person, and gotten video of his work space to use in the story.
Instead, we did a Facetime call. I recorded it on my regular video camera by filming my iPhone screen. It didn’t look like your traditional interview, but you could clearly see my subject and hear him. I’d call that a win.
I ran into my first big challenge during the video upload process. I wasn’t as comfortable working with the editing laptop as I thought I would be and missed a setting so the video came in without the sound.
Thankfully, our engineering department walked me through how to fix it over the phone. Having to upload the footage again set me back about 45 minutes though.
As I was writing my story using a virtual desktop, I got a call that really set me back.
My interview subject said he didn’t feel comfortable with me airing our conversation because his company didn’t want him talking to a member of the media. Even though I wasn’t using the business name or mentioning the company in my story, my interviewee still asked that I not use what he said about the pros and cons of telework.
Of course, I respected his wishes.
At this point, I had no interview and only had about two and a half hours to get the story on air. So, I was really stressing.
Thankfully, a second interview subject came through at about 3 p.m.
I set up another Facetime call and went through the whole process again. The entire time I’m updating the newsroom on my progress using a communication platform called Slack.
Once I had typed out the parts of the interview I’d be including in my story, I got to work writing and editing. I downloaded some video from our national network site earlier in the day to help the piece come together.
With less than an hour to edit and set up my gear to go live in the 5 o’clock broadcast, my heart was racing.
I’ve been working as a professional multimedia journalist for about six years now, so I’m a pretty fast editor. But working on a laptop I rarely use slowed me down. A nice adrenaline rush got me through the moment though.
I managed to finish editing the story and upload it to our sharing site in time for someone at the station to get it into the show.
While they worked on that in the newsroom, I was setting up my iPhone as a unit to broadcast live. Years ago, a news station would have had to have a microwave truck there to do this. That was definitely not the case Thursday. I was able to download an app from a company my station uses to go live in our shows.
Technology is so cool.
Another wave of stress hit me once I got off air at about 5:10. I still had to finish writing my second story of the day and edit the video for it to make the 6 o’clock newscast.
Spoiler alert: I got my second story in on time and went live during our 6 o’clock show, too.
It was an exhausting day. But, it was also so rewarding and refreshing.
Sharing accurate information is important, especially during times of uncertainty. Rest assured that the journalists working in your communities are resourceful, passionate, and dedicated to making sure people know what’s going on in the community. We will always bring you the news you need, even if we have to bring it to you from our kitchen tables.
If you’re a journalist that has questions about my workflow or tech tools I used, feel free to direct message me on social media or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(PS: Here is a link to the story I did about working from home that aired in our 5 o’clock broadcast.)
COPYRIGHT 2020 BY KXLY. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.