COVID 19 – How the pandemic has changed the newsroom

Hanna Lalonde / April 9th, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, journalists find themselves working around the clock to keep the public updated.

(Image courtesy of Greg Fry)

Statistics Canada said that since the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada has lost approximately one million jobs. 

For those Canadians still at work, this may mean longer hours or an increased workload. For those who are confined to their own homes, news updates are essential. Greg Fry, the News Director at CKPG, said his team has never been busier.

“The microscope is on me and my team like never before – including from the company itself. It’s events like these that kind of make you, or even break you. If you do a really good job, people in the community will consider you the number one news source. ” – Greg Fry, News Director at CKPG

CKPG is a television station located in Prince George, British Columbia. CKPG is also a heritage station. Since the pandemic, Fry has noted “the thirst for information is so great in every way”. Fry said that now more than ever, he is ensuring the CKPG website is updated 24/7.

The Public Health Agency of Canada has implemented Social Distancing rules throughout Canada. Some of these measures included: avoiding crowded areas, keeping a two metre distance from others, and staying home as much as possible. For Fry and his team, this has made reporting and covering the news difficult.

“I want to make sure everyone stays healthy. We can’t preach social distancing and staying healthy if we’re not practicing that ourselves – I think it’s a bit hypocritical. People could rightly call us on that. So it forced us, as a Newsroom, to re-jig how we deliver the news.” Greg Fry, News Director at CKPG

In addition, Fry said they’ve shortened their one hour 5:00PM news cast to 30 minutes. He said this makes their program “hyper-local”, and helps with morale.

“It’s exhausting because we’re living the story, along with reporting on it. We’re all feeling the stress of the situation… I think the challenge is how do we deliver the news in a safe way, yet still get that vital information out there.” Greg Fry, News Director at CKPG

Fry said that at CKPG, they are a “digital first” newsroom and COVID-19 reinforces how important this is. He explained how newsrooms need to adapt to their audience. As more Canadians turn to the Web for their news, Fry noted that as journalists, it is our job to ensure the news online is reliable.

“People don’t always wait for 5:00 or 6:00 for the TV news to go on. Digital is so immediate, I would say it’s more immediate than anything else.”

Although news agencies nationally are facing changes in protocol, Fry said it will be interesting to see what sort of lasting impact this pandemic could have on newsrooms.

The entire interview is posted below. Click the link to learn more about how Greg Fry and his team at CKPG are adapting their program amidst this crisis.

Here are some of the ways Canadians can practice Physical Distancing.

(Hanna Lalonde / Canva)