Newsrooms during Quarantine: Hacks to optimize Work

Samvel Martirosyan

Media researcher

Since quarantine, for obvious or unknown reasons, can last for quite a long time, at least longer that any legitimate or non-legitimate government can plan, journalists should try to regulate their work distantly, whenever possible.

Of course, some newsrooms still resist the situation, getting together every morning. However, the quarantine may start knocking on every door.

In some cases it’s not that hard for editorial offices because many journalists already have flexible working hours. However, this is a rather stressful change in many cases.

Stress happens mainly in big editorial offices covering several areas. Or when editors are used to “looking into the bright eyes” of journalists while giving them tasks.

There is a need for psychological assistance in the second case. As for the first case, we could try applying a number of tools that will allow organizing the work of the team scattered across the city. We will talk only about the free tools. Therefore,

General communication

When the goal is to split the employees into several groups, there could be a number of solutions. The most accessible, simple and chaotic way is creating a group or several groups in the Facebook messenger. This will work because it’s a usual platform for the majority. The problem is the lack of privacy – anyone can write anything.

WhatsApp and Telegram are more effective. The Telegram software is much more user-friendly than WhatsApp.

Video calls

Regular video calls are essential so that the team members don’t forget each other’s faces. Here, the main restriction is about the quantity of people that can simultaneously get in touch. In case of Facebook, only 8 participants can see each other. WhatsApp allows 16 participants, Google Hangout – 25 participants, Skype – 50 participants, Microsoft Team – 50 participants.

Currently, the most accessible version is Zoom that offers video calls for up to 100 people free of charge. However, there is a time limit – a call can last no longer than 40 minutes. But you can switch off, connect again and have another group call for 100 people.

Organizing the work

If you want to switch from ordinary chats to a more organized work, splitting people into groups in a separate space based on topics, tasks, departments, Slack platform will be of great use.

Organizing tasks will be easier through Trello platform.

Google Drive and Microsoft Teams are mainly used for document circulation. Both have document management systems, shared calendars, file archives.

Since reporters in Armenia mainly use Gmail, it will be a lot easier to take advantage of Google Drive. There is a possibility to download numerous additional tools to work with different-format files, including audio files, pdf and more.

Transmitting sensitive information

If you have to communicate with secret sources or transmit sensitive info, you’d better use Signal messenger or Protonmail.

Both can encrypt communication and make it inaccessible in case of cyberattacks.

Of course, you can choose from a variety of options – these are just the most accessible ones.

Samvel Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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