RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A number of companies and businesses are requiring employees to work from home to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but that’s not possible for all jobs, including us here at 8News. We are taking precautionary measures and have made changes around our studio.
Journalists are constantly meeting new people in the community. Their job is to provide accurate information to the public, which requires them to be at work. However, journalists aren’t alone; first responders, health care providers, grocery store employees, among others have jobs that can’t be completed at home.
Here at 8News it’s still lights, camera, action as we work to bring you the latest forecast and breaking updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
“This has changed the newsroom dynamic a lot,” says 8News Digital Producer Keyris Manzanares. “Everything seems more urgent”.
The urgent need for vital life-saving information is undeniable as the outbreak of coronavirus continues to spread throughout the state and the world.
From the studio to behind the scenes, 8News, like many across the globe, is practicing social distancing. Our anchors, producers and directors must now work six feet apart from one another. No two people will sit directly next to each other in the newsroom and anchors will no longer be side-by-side.
“They were standing much closer than the CDC guidelines,” says 8News Technical Manager Mike Laffey. “We went ahead and measured it out. The anchor positions now are further out on the anchor desk, so you will see composition of the shots a little different and how we format the shows will be a little different.”
Our engineering team rewired electronics throughout the building on Monday and installed new computers to create new work spaces.
Manzanares once sat side-by-side with her co-workers at the 8News Digital Desk, but now sits alone in her make-shift office, updating the website.
“It made me feel a little bit anxious because I realized how serious the situation is getting,” said Manzanares. “Now we are going to be six feet away from each other and if I need to contact a co-worker, I have to grab the phone.”
Journalism is a business of communication, but now– more than ever — everyone must limit contact.
8News reporters are still reporting in the field, but taking extra steps to be safe. Our crews are frequently using hand sanitizer, wiping down all of their equipment, and driving separately from their designated photographer.
Reporters have also had to get creative with interviews. They are doing more phone, Skype, and Facetime interviews. When it comes to in-person interviews, reporters are setting up microphone stands and keeping a safe distance from their interview subject.
8News is working hard to keep you informed and doing our part to stay safe.