The Media School

Social distancing makes a reporter’s job even more awkward

March 25th, 2021 by

Although we have been dealing with COVID-19 for almost a year, it still makes tasks difficult, including reporting. Since everyone is being much more cautious, it is difficult to collect sources and information, epically to do it over zoom or over the phone.

For the last article I wrote, we were directed to stand in a place on campus and interview people about a topic of our choosing. We were told that three should have a diverse group of people interviewed, and in addition to say socially distant and wear a mask. It was already going to be awkward enough asking for people’s opinions on the street, but COVID made it even more so.

Although I am a pretty outgoing person, talking to people of the street was a lot more uncomfortable than I thought. The worst part was the initial ask to interview them in the first place. I stood at the Sample Gates for a while before I gained the confidence to finally walk up and ask someone.

What I realized is luckily, most of the people were extremely kind and happy to talk to me. After I conducted the first interview, I immediately became more comfortable and the other ones became easier as I moved along.

But, in order to minimize the spread of COVID, we are told when we are interviewing someone it is required for us to wear a mask, be outside or in an airy location, as well as staying socially distanced.

“These circumstances make it awkward to interview people, even though we are face to face. I had to awkwardly extend my arm while recording the interview and stand far enough away while I was taking their head shots. This led to a less crisp voice recording, as well as head shots that are slightly too far away.”

In the past when I have conducted interviews, they have always been face to face. But beginning last semester, conducting interviews over zoom does not have the same effect as going it in person. You are unable to see their surroundings and read their body language in the same way.

I was thankful that for this interview we were allowed to talk to people in person, but even having them in a mask made it difficult to see their facial expressions. This is key for fully understanding what the interviewee is saying.

Since the COVID vaccine has been created and is slowly becoming available, the is hope for journalism going back to normal. But in the meantime, journalists need to continue to adapt and improve the ways we are collecting information.

Although there has been many challenges, learning how to adapt to the circumstances of the world is key to being a strong journalist. The pandemic has given me yet another challenge to overcome though this time.