Commentary: Working for a newsroom in the time of COVID-19

Commentary: Working for a newsroom in the time of COVID-19
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels
What I wish working from home was like

Alexa Huffman is the Digital News Editor for CHEK News. You can reach her at [email protected]

My work is my home now and my home is my work.

Before I describe my own “new normal,” I have to say I am incredibly lucky to be able to work from home.  On May 1, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said thousands of people applied for British Columbia’s $1,000 tax-free emergency benefit in the first minutes of the program going online the same day.

She also said 16,000 people registered to receive the one-time B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers in the first 45 minutes.

That is not my current reality. But this is.

On weekdays, I attempt to get up a couple of hours before I am scheduled to start my day so I can go for a walk and eat breakfast. Or I do a home workout and eat breakfast. Or I scroll through social media, try not to give into despair, then eat breakfast. Whatever works.

I then put another X on my calendar on my wall to mark another day of stay-at-home measures. It has now been over a month since I started working from home. I don’t know why I started counting my days like this. I think I wanted a physical reminder of this time, not that I think I’ll have any trouble remembering 2020.

Afterwards, I will log onto my computer, go through emails, bring up TweetDeck and Facebook, and check-in with the digital team.  Newsrooms usually get quite a few emails but since the COVID-19 pandemic started, I can’t reply to as many as I want to.

There are four other people on CHEK’s digital team at the moment (Graham, Nicholas, Andy and Rebecca). Graham, Nicholas and Rebecca start before I do and Andy (you will know him as the 10 pm anchor) does some digital work in the afternoon and evenings. All of us write articles for CHEK News. We also post to the CHEK social media channels, edit and much more.

There has never been a typical day since I started working as a journalist. And that holds true during the COVID-19 crisis. I can be writing up a story about COVID-19 and suddenly there’s a suspicious package in Victoria (see this past Thursday) What is standard these days are the B.C. COVID-19 updates with Dr. Bonnie Henry and B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix.

But this is my first time working from home regularly and it has been an adjustment. Newsrooms can be a noisy and exciting place. People are often bouncing ideas off each other and trying to figure out who contacted who about doing an interview.

I both miss it and also enjoy the quiet while writing. And I yearn for the days when I had two screens to work with instead of switching between tabs while trying to check my email on my phone.

I’m not sure how long I will be working from home or what newsrooms, or really any office, will look like this year or next. But what I do know is I am very proud of the work that my colleagues have been doing and I don’t think that will change.

In the meantime, I will wrap up my work this evening and try to unwind. I usually try to watch a few funny videos. My favourite this month has been a Sex and the City spoof by actor Jayke Workman. Now we all don’t have to wonder what it would be like to be in quarantine with Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

With files from The Canadian Press

Would you like to write for CHEK’s commentary section, Voices? Click here to learn how. 




Alexa HuffmanAlexa Huffman

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!