Before Covid, the newsroom’s day would traditionally start with content planning. After the mandatory morning cup of coffee, the news team and journalists would check the news agencies and social networks to get to grips with the developing news stories, they would then meet with colleagues to discuss the top stories, decide what’s going to be covered by whom and from where. Further decisions happened on what will be live or a package and then finally how is the story going to be treated and delivered onto their different distribution platforms. But suddenly when you can no longer meet in person to discuss the daily undertakings, what are the alternatives?
“Working away from the office”
Remote working is not an alien concept for journalists. They are used to working out in the field but they still very much rely on continuous collaboration and interaction with their colleagues. Taking that from physical space into a virtual one was a challenge that was foisted on them with little warning yet massive impact.
A recent research paper entitled “HOW IS JOURNALISM ENDURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS?” authored by Julie Posetti, Emily Bell and Pete Brown gives an insightful view into the effect that the pandemic had on the journalist and their working environment from March to June 2020.
The most significant need identified by respondents (76%) was funding to cover operating costs (including salaries) where the pandemic was having a detrimental impact on traditional revenue streams. The results also highlighted an urgent need for mental health support and interventions to help alleviate burnout. Also, there is strong demand for training on new technologies to support remote reporting and publishing (67%). The intense workload and social isolation identified in the report mitigates the use of new virtual technology to reduce stress coupled with a platform that can reduce costs, thus having a net positive impact on the working newsroom environment.
The ideal solution is to transfer the daily life of a journalist to a shared and collaborative system dedicated to manage all the normal daily tasks, albeit remotely. Enter the world of the huge potential of the Octopus X NRCS, which can be deployable on premise or in the cloud.
Eva Planickova, News Production Advisor & Trainer, a journalist who advises and provides training on the Octopus platform stated that her day can still be structured the same and each step can now be done remotely: meetings on story creation, the access to the archive and other information sources, collaboration on the creation of rundowns, the social media interaction, the discussion live or packaged segments. Octopus X is accessible from anywhere, on any device and at any time while creating content in what journalists like to refer to as a “story-centric” approach.
Octopus X, deployed in the cloud or inhouse, is a newsroom computer system (NRCS) that has evolved over the past 22 years to meet the needs of the news team and remote journalists and has found the place in the current and post pandemic environment. Octopus Journalist App, the mobile app of Octopus X NRCS, allows a story to be assigned to a journalist, who can have then remote access to all their coverage plan, which can all be done on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Journalists can submit scripts, access and view rundowns and can see important factors when they are due to go live, view the interview questions from the studio and understand the length of their set piece. With Octopus X they can host the whole show remotely and read updates from all their colleagues in real time.
Another innovative app, known as the Octopus iReporter, is an app that can be used for gathering videos from crowd reporters or contributors from around the globe for breaking news stories that can be uploaded directly into the Octopus X or other NRCS. Producers can also see if there are people available locally on the map to shoot a news story. It helps enormously in case of lockdown restrictions and to reduce the cost of having to send full time employees from a long distance.
“Social Media Interaction”
The research paper by Posetti, Bell and Brown also highlighted how working practices had changed during the pandemic. Social media has had a big impact on both researching stories and distributing content. One question “HOW HAVE NEWSGATHERING PRACTICES CHANGED FOR THOSE WORKING REMOTELY?” saw respondents doing 50% more internet searches and a 31% increase of people relying on social media. Respondents said they were making more use of digital tools and online communities to report (67%) and engage audiences (38%).
In terms of distribution, HOW HAVE AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES CHANGED AT THE RESPONDENTS’NEWS ORGANIZATIONS? there was a 38% increase in reliance on social media platforms/apps to connect with audiences.
Social Media integration of Octopus X plays heavily in the feature set – it allows gathering and capture of information sourced from the internet and social media, as well as providing functionality for social media publishing.
“Importance of journalism “
According to the survey, some positive findings are connected to the mission of journalism. 43% of respondents said the audience’s trust in their journalism had increased during the pandemic. The summary finalized with the RESPONDENTS’ TOP EMOTIONAL REACTION TO THE PANDEMIC IS POSITIVE. There was a 61% increase in the sense of commitment to the importance of journalism.
Philip L. Graham as publisher and later co-owner of The Washington Post famously once said “Journalism is the first rough draft of history.” It is imperative that journalism is free to continue despite obstacles such as pandemics. Technology is paramount in its quest to facilitate and record historical events. Octopus will continue to innovate specifically for the journalist and newsrooms, and future technologies such as AI and speech-to-text are already being integrated. One of the biggest journalists’ priorities nowadays is adapting to the ‘new normal.’ Octopus will be there to facilitate this new normal.