THE Covid-19 pandemic is more than just a health crisis. It has brought disruptions to all industries and sectors changing the old normal to new normal.
Aside from medical, security, and other kinds of frontlines, journalists also struggled in keeping and performing their jobs to keep people well-informed and educated especially during a time when the chaos of information was at an all-time high.
We talk with some of the reporters, photojournalist, and editors of SunStar Davao to know more about their experiences and realizations brought by the pandemic:
What are the strategies you applied in running the newsroom during a pandemic?
Reuel John Lumawag, EIC
One of the things that were clear to us was that we would need to operate remotely.
I settled with using G Suite because it was easy to use and most of the team have Gmail accounts. It was a bit rocky when we transitioned but we eventually got used to it and were able to work efficiently.
We also had to rethink how we angle our stories considering that many have been posted as breaking news stories. This means that reporters have to find better and stronger story angles.
Looking for stories is also a challenge. People get tired of reading Covid-19 related stories. Hence, we had to look for other stories happening amid the pandemic. This means reviewing pre-pandemic stories, getting updates on certain issues, among others.
What are the challenges in performing your duties as a journalist during the pandemic?
Ralph Lawrence Llemit, multimedia reporter
It is very crucial since news gathering on field is highly discouraged due to the threat of acquiring the virus. This has tested my skills in news gathering. Luckily, with the advancement of technology, and with social media, news can be gathered, even when I am only at home. Some government offices had also stepped up or initiated in adapting to these measures, such as utilizing video conferencing, and other ways to convey information dissemination.
But still, much information is still lacking and needed further documents for clarification. Also, some news sources do not reply to your text messages. In the long run, I got used to the "new normal" of news gathering. But still, there's nothing better than witnessing those important events personally, not virtually.
Jennie Arado, editor
With remote working, it's especially challenging to edit and write articles when the connection is not stable. Sometimes it gets in the way of productivity. Aside from that, it's also sometimes challenging to connect with someone you would want to interview for a story as they may be having trouble with their internet as well or they really don't want to be interviewed. You really can't determine which is which. Of course, you can't go to their office to interview.
Mark Perandos, photojournalist
As a photojournalist, working in the field is a huge challenge. Unlike before, I can easily mingle with the men on the streets to get their stories for my photo support. But right now, in this pandemic, I personally take extra precautionary measures to protect myself first.
Reinhart Jerd Belviz, social media content provider
When the pandemic started, demand for information especially in social media was very high. People wanted to get reliable information as it happens. Social media knows no time. In effect, us content creators got tired and exhausted, but we do it anyway because that's the nature of our job. But it is really important to take "intentional breaks" in order to not burn out. Health is still wealth.
How journalism helps the community in dealing with the pandemic?
* Reuel John Lumawag, EIC
Community journalism plays a crucial role during the Covid-19 pandemic. First, community journalists are able to debunk misinformation happening in the community. Second, it allows the community to better understand what is happening around them. It is the community journalists who are able to bring the concern of the public to the leaders. It also provides a venue for leaders and experts to explain certain things to the community.
Lastly, community journalists are also able to highlight in detail the stories of the local community. It brings these stories to a wider audience and makes them aware of it.
* Cristina Alivio, editor
The significance of local or community journalism is even more highlighted in this time of pandemic because this is the only way the people would know the real story in the countrysides, how the pandemic has affected the folks in other regions and how their local government has acted. Different places have different stories, even amid this pandemic, and it's the community journalists that are able to tell these stories to the whole world.