Socially distanced journalism: Bridging the gap with CBC’s Zach Goudie
Reporters are finding creative ways to do their jobs, such as attaching microphones to poles
November 3, 2020, 3:34 pm ASTLast Updated: November 3, 2020, 3:34 pm
Across the globe, people have been adapting to COVID-19 restrictions, something one reporter said has brought new risks, challenges and even a little convenience to how he works.
Zach Goudie, a journalist with CBC in St. John’s, N.L., spoke about the difficulties he’s had with once simple tasks such as setting up interviews.
“Before the pandemic, you could just call the person up, ‘Let’s meet at this place at this time,'” he said. “It was often at their house.”
That simplicity was replaced with new hurdles and added precautions after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and social distancing policies took effect.
“We can’t do any of that anymore,” Goudie said. “No going into people’s houses, no guests in the building whatsoever, so you’re always having to take a few extra steps.”
Having worked under these constraints for months, Goudie bridges the socially distanced gap with tools like a GoPro camera and a regular microphone — each clipped to extendable stands or poles.
While necessary to keep everyone safe, they were a bit odd at the onset of the pandemic, Goudie said. Some people weren’t used to seeing a microphone wiggling from a pole on the TV news.
“Now it doesn’t even phase the person because they’re so used to this language and the necessities of the moment we’re in right now,” he said.
When COVID-19 rules were particularly strict, he had to find another way of conducting interviews and gathering footage that was online. This required some help from his guests.
“I could ask somebody, ‘After this interview, could you take a picture or take a video of you playing that song or making that craft or doing your thing?’” Goudie said.
“Then 10 minutes later it would arrive in my phone — this awesome sequence with a lot of great shots in it, perfect for me and my purposes to do a great video production.”
Goudie explained that thanks to how comfortable people are with their devices, this approach worked well for him. He thinks the pandemic even had a part to play in that.
“Even regular people with no background or experience in media production are pretty savvy wielding their own phone now,” he said. “And they got better at that during the pandemic, where by necessity you’re doing so much more stuff over the phone.”
Scott Matthews, an associate professor of political science at Memorial University, said journalists play an important role in society, providing “good sources of information and independent sources of information.”
Matthews said those sources are even more crucial during a pandemic.
“It’s all the more important in the context of a pandemic that we have journalists giving us the information that we need, the tools that we need in order to hold government accountable.”
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