Journalism panel- Storytelling in the COVID-19 era

There is no doubt that Covid-19 has dramatically impacted the landscape of journalism. Most likely affecting the industry indefinitely.

Today, four media professionals spoke on a panel about their experiences during the pandemic and their predictions for the future of journalism, for University of Gloucestershire’s Media Festival. The panel consisted of: Steve Knibbs- a Gloucestershire reporter for the BBC; Amita Joshi- the Digital Lifestyle Editor at The Telegraph; Megan Jones- the chief reporter at Free Radio; and Sean Mullan- a freelance social media editor, currently working with Manchester United.

For anyone, lockdown has been a struggle in one way or another. But within a profession that relies on communication, there was bound to be many challenges. When speaking about hurdles that have had to be overcome during lockdown, there was a mutual agreement that the lack of face to face human interaction and unreliable internet had definitely been a trouble, with so many forms of communication now solely reliant upon the smooth sailing of the internet.

Despite the obvious struggles, there has actually been many unexpected silver-linings in the way work is now being conducted. Steve Knibbs gave us an insight into how he feels more of a team by joining meetings on Zoom that he would not usually have been part of. Additionally, Covid has allowed the BBC to develop software to conduct meetings and interviews which would not have been done otherwise.

At times, news on Covid can seem all-consuming which is why it is probably no surprise that Amita Joshi found that there was lots of traffic directed at non-Covid stories during the pandemic. For anyone, a form of escapism brings sanity and in such hectic times, the panellists highlighted the importance of connecting with readers and listeners, showing that there is a life beyond Covid through the stories they report on.

Out of all the guests, Sean Mullan’s role changed dramatically during the Covid-era. With his main story device- football matches- temporarily eradicated, the content he produced focused largely on creating a community and messages of reassurance.

As for the future, all panellists agreed that the landscape of journalism has indefinitely changed with the industry being reconstructed due to the strains of Covid. But with this has come more efficient ways of working. The optimistic outlook that each guest had was reassuring and that, although things have developed, the appetite for news will never die and the pandemic has given people the chance to think creatively, innovatively and created the opportunity for new voices.

It is clear that Covid has and will change a lot, especially for journalists, but as Megan Jones put it perfectly- it will be a “different experience, but an exciting and interesting one.”

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