The Media School

The pandemic has made laptops a reporter’s best friend

March 25th, 2021 by

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was a breaking news reporter at the Indiana Daily Student. During the first weeks I wrote constantly about how the virus was affecting IU and its students, but it took a long time for me to realize the way I was going to conduct interviews was going to change. “

Before this, I usually did interviews in person; in offices, in comma areas, even in student’s homes a few times. I came to realize that while Zoom interviews are similar to the real thing, it was clear things were different, and I had to make accommodations. 

It was nearly impossible to get interviews on the fly, I could no longer go up to strangers. It became more important than ever to utilize internet resources to find and contact my sources early.

Although it was difficult, I found that if you explain the situation, and are open to possibilities, sources can be understanding and are still open to doing interviews virtually. The pandemic has been hard, but I like to think it hasn’t affected my reporting abilities.

Although Zoom interviews and contact online are not ideal for performing interviews, the pandemic made me realize social media can be a vital tool in reaching sources. Many people these days have some sort of public profile and they are one of the best places to reach people immediately. 

Although students have returned to IU, businesses continue to open, government restrictions are lifted and vaccines being distributed across the country, things are certainly not back to normal. 

“It was nearly impossible to get interviews on the fly, I could no longer go up to strangers. It became more important than ever to utilize internet resources to find and contact my sources early.”

While students used to crowd the pathways and IU common areas, many students now walk alone to class and maintain social distance while studying. While searching for IU students to interview last week, I realized a lot of students are still being cautious. 

I went to IU common areas looking for students to interview, and I was surprised that only a few students populated each area, all sequestered in private study rooms or socially distanced seats and tables. 

Many students were opposed to interviews, especially in closed quarters or smaller spaces. Although it was disappointing to see how things changed, I couldn’t blame students for wanting to be safe. 

Students I met in outdoor areas were much easier to approach and talk to. They also seemed intrigued by my questions about non-school-related activities being affected by the pandemic.

Maintaining social distancing while conducting interviews is something I haven’t had to work around since the pandemic began. It was difficult for me to be so far away from my source, but I do think it made them feel more comfortable given the situation. 

It was refreshing to know some students are still going about their lives similar to how they did before the pandemic. They visit local businesses, vote in elections and help their community. 

However, it was clear from my initial contact with some students many are taking their health and safety seriously.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has ultimately changed the way I have to do my job. However, I see journalism as a career full of changes and adaptations and try to look forward to the excitement of the daily news.