This is a challenging time for newsrooms around the world. Journalists and editors have to work in the conditions they have never worked before. They are asked to cover the Coronavirus story which hasn’t been covered before so nobody really knows how to do it or what may happen next.
We all are learning on the job: looking for reliable sources, trying to inform our audience without spreading the panic, sharing resources and picking up new communication and production techniques.
Journalists are working hard while also worrying about their own families, their health and financial wellbeing.
We at the OMH had to re-think how we can work in the new environment; it caught us while we were planning a number of training courses in different countries which now will have to migrate online.
We asked hundreds of journalists all over the East and South neighbourhood to produce Being 20: Activists square videos (our latest production call) and we realise that it isn’t going to be easy for you to carry on producing these stories as if nothing is happening.
So, we wanted to give you a few tips what you may consider doing if you feel that quarantine is affecting your production plans:
- The most important thing to consider: is the story you pitched still relevant? How did it change? For example, a volunteer you were planning to film isn’t able to work with kids in the classroom or visit older people, but it is possible that they have moved their activities online? Journalism reflects reality so it is only natural that you may have to adapt your plans.
- You might be self-isolating, unable to leave your home to film the sequences you planned. Think whether you might be able to structure the film in a way that your character will film their own activities. You will have to be very specific with what exactly you need, maybe even send them a few sketches of the shots you are after. Send a simple storyboard with every shot outlined. Don’t over-complicate it, however, make sure that you have a good variety of steady, in-focus shots to edit. Better to discuss and prepare your characters than make them re-film the whole thing if they didn’t get it right the first time. Remember to ask them to record the natural sound (if they are filming boiling a kettle, we want to hear the water bubbling).
- You can easily do your interview via SKYPE or other conference platforms. In fact, if your newsroom is prepared to pay, there are software options that will record broadcast quality audio on SKYPE. Alternatively, you can have a pre-interview by phone, off the record, looking for the most interesting answers, and then, knowing what quotes would work best for your film, send the most important questions and ask the person to record those answers and send you an audio file. You also can do it simultaneously: while you are asking questions on the phone/computer (on speaker, not in shot), the interviewee can record his or her answers on their computer/phone in better quality.
Here are a few links:
If you feel that you need to use the video of Skype interview and not just the voice for narration, be creative. Skype interview doesn’t have to look horrible (conference call-like with white wall or unmade bed in the background). Think about lighting and background, direct the room set up as you would if you were there. Here is a good example from the BBC where the set up works well and fits the overall style of the story:
I really like this video tutorial: How to look good in SKYPE interview. It is aimed at official formal interview however has good tips that could be used for any informal interview, too.
Finally, we are suddenly living in a new world. With some plans crashing, new stories of activism and altruism come up. If you believe that your story is lost for good, talk to your mentor and to us. It maybe that there is an inspiring and interesting young activist doing something right now and it is worth filming and telling the world about. We can review the new story and approve the replacement.
Look at what other media organisations are doing, how they solve the problem and learn from each other:
Send your solutions to the OMH to share.
Remember, you should not risk your or anybody else’s health and well being for the sake of a story. Let’s find solutions together!
Here are some good tips for Skype interviews:
ZOOM conference calls tips:
How to stay secure on Zoom
- do not share the link or the meeting ID on public platforms (and if you share photos of the meeting make sure the ID is not visible)
- never use the personal meeting ID, instead allow Zoom to create a random number for each meeting
- add a meeting password
- set screen sharing to “host only”
- disable file transfer
- disable “join before host”
- disable “allow removed participants to rejoin”
Need to learn more on working remotely ? Here are two other articles by Zoya Charles :