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When lockdowns were first announced across the world, many journalists were faced with the unknown. How do you produce quality news with restricted access to newsrooms, social distancing, and considerable fewer in-person events going on?

However, the industry has persevered and many have found silver linings and handy shortcuts. spoke to three journalists about how they have adapted to doing their jobs in a new environment.

Going MoJo to secure soundbites

For Wytse Vellinga, video and mobile journalist at Dutch broadcaster Omrop Fryslân, reporting with his phone has been the standard operating procedure for years. What the pandemic has taught him, however, is just how versatile it can be. Even if you cannot go anywhere, your guests and interviewees are able to send you their quotes and clips.

"In this pandemic, the mobile journalism workflow has finally become more mainstream," he says. "The phone has proven to be the perfect tool in this situation because you have it with you all the time, you can use it to record, edit and send stuff.

"This means that we as journalists could also ask the public to film themselves when it was not possible to meet them. I think this is something that will stay after the pandemic."

For those who have had to venture out to the streets, mobile journalism has been an asset. Vellinga noted that smartphones are easily cleaned too, which is a plus during a pandemic.

Finding inspiration through necessity

The coronavirus pandemic meant that international travel ground to a halt. Freelance foreign correspondent Lu-Hai Liang found himself stuck in a foreign country, Japan, when restrictions were imposed.

He was forced to completely rethink his daily routine. But, out of necessity, he also made the most of his uncomfortable situation by drawing inspiration from his new reality.

"It forced me to save drastically and to stay in one place for a long time. And being stuck in one place for so long also helped me to focus on my freelancing," he says. "I kept up my productivity because I had to. Necessity here was the biggest motivator."

That productivity fuelled three articles about his host country: an in-depth feature about the start-up industry for Business Insider; an in-depth feature for BBC Future Planet about a typhoon-resistant wind turbine being developed by a Tokyo company; and a piece for The National about how sensors were being deployed in Japan for the 'touchless economy'.

Emulating studio sound quality from home

Many journalists were making light of the working from home situation at the start of the pandemic. A regular theme were makeshift set-ups of podcasters recording in wardrobes and all other DIY hacks to try to emulate their usual studio conditions.

What became clear to Christopher Phin, head of podcasts at Scottish publisher DC Thomson Media, is that standard equipment would not make the cut.

Producing podcasts with computer mics, or even in-line headphone mics, resulted in countless more hours of editing the final piece to bring it up to standard quality.

So Phin invested in forty professional mics for his team, reasoning that, "they were tools we could then deploy to richer audio environments in the future. So they wouldn't just be put in drawers and forgotten about. Journalists can use them for newsgathering in the field [too]."

But his teams also needed the right platform and so they started using remote recording platform Zencastr, which is a useful tool to host interviews and record guests locally for better sound quality.

What are your working from home tricks and hacks? DM us on Twitter @journalismnews

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