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jerseyfla

Social Distancing on Set

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You can see Kate Snow's home setup here. Very similar to Lester Holt's home setup with a monitor mirroring the Nightly News studio look.

 

 

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FOX Television Stations is thinking today's "social distancing" workflows are a look into the future of the industry.

 

https://tvnewscheck.com/article/top-news/248616/for-fox-owned-stations-pandemic-responses-look-to-be-a-precursor-of-future-workflows/

 

Quote

It is going to change our business, unquestionably. Some people may never come back into the building. Do the salespeople ever really need to come back? Let me be clear, it’s not like we are banning people from the building. But why would they have an office? Maybe we will have a meeting once a week in a conference room and everybody goes home.

You can argue most of the finance people don’t actually have to be here. Why would crews and field producers come back into the building? Maybe they don’t work out of here anymore, either. Maybe they all work from home, go from story to story. They will have conference calls, Zoom meetings for production, but maybe those people don’t have to come back except for gatherings and team meetings. You still want to build a cohesive team.

I can argue many of the producers on a television newscast don’t actually have to be in the building. That is certainly more convenient, but we have producers with clocks and monitor walls on one monitor and a rundown on another monitor. They are on an intercom over the internet back to the control room, producing a show remotely. We built them a monitor wall with a multiviewer. The only job we haven’t been able to move out of the building is the actual person switching the switcher, and we have one experiment with that at the moment.

 

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Posted (edited)

This is getting remarkably overblown.

 

People don't want to watch other people at their homes reading the news. They're doing it now because there's a public health crisis and emergency. People watch other people at home on YouTube, Twitch, etc because they're typically doing something else, like streaming a game, etc. Not to mention horrible lighting, sound, etc.

 

I realize some of that stuff can be fixed if everyone weren't flying by the seat of their pants right now, but it won't be fixed because long-term, it won't matter. News consumers--not just us--like the theater of it. Stations invest heavily in the tech--arguably more than the talent in some instances--and they're sure as Hell gonna use it when we're on the other side of this.

 

And station employees want to work together. There needs to be close coordination in breaking news situations. Could you imagine having to coordinate and cover a major news event with everyone working from home?

Edited by TSSZNews
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2 hours ago, Weeters said:

FOX Television Stations is thinking today's "social distancing" workflows are a look into the future of the industry.

 

https://tvnewscheck.com/article/top-news/248616/for-fox-owned-stations-pandemic-responses-look-to-be-a-precursor-of-future-workflows/

 

 

That's all wonderful until someone critical loses power at their home and doesn't have a backup generator. Or someone doesn't have access to/can't afford high speed internet and the station won't foot the bill or reimburse the employee (that's happening now). Or someone suddenly loses internet for who knows how long, someone doesn't have the space at home, someone just doesn't have a suitable home to WFH at all...the list goes on. Chiefly, it is supremely easier to communicate when everyone is in the same building. This is all fine and dandy assuming everything works 100% of the time. This is just suits wondering how they can cut costs when - ironically - a lot of them will be retired in 5-10 years.

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I don't see this WFH option becoming the norm.  IMHO, every day that this WFH thing drags on, it makes the anchors and reporters look less and less like a cohesive news team.  People reporting live from their living room/bedroom/basement makes it look like they don't even go out to do a story.   I can maybe see reporters working from home in the future-- but no more live shots from the house.... it looks silly.

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noone is saying everyone will work at home... but the people who can, will... 

 

if you give them the option, some will take it... and some will not... their choice... as long as the work gets done, who cares??? it is a benefit that makes the job enticing... 

 

there are reasons why "tv people"  leave it to work in other industries... 

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6 hours ago, TSSZNews said:

Could you imagine having to coordinate and cover a major news event with everyone working from home?

 

No, but we're doing exactly that right now, and it's going better than anyone could have ever guessed.

 

I don't think people on here get that this isn't just a fun little project the industry decided to embark upon or that we're doing this just to make a point on air. We are in a pandemic, and the guidance from local, national, and global health experts is that we are all generally safer if we can avoid public gatherings. I am glad my employer acted quickly and decisively through a number of measures to ensure our health and safety by getting as many people out of the building as possible and compensating those who still need to work in the building or in the field. Many of my contacts at other broadcasters who have not acted as nimbly are generally frustrated at their managers for not taking it as seriously. We're getting the work done, and ratings are sky high, so viewers don't seem to really care that much that our newscasts don't look or sound as great as they normally would.

 

I don't think this will be the new normal, but this entire thing forced broadcasting to come into the 21st century by figuring out ways to have people work from home effectively. Plenty of other industries have had more flexible remote work abilities for years. It turns out that a lot of news production can be done from home, and in the future, if people are given the option, I'm sure some will choose to stay home for a number of reasons. The writers and web staff are able to do their jobs pretty well remotely. Video editors and the assignment desk, not so much. With that said, I do think we will someday go back to having much (maybe not all) of the newsroom filled in again and anchors back in shiny studios. But in the near term, when people start to gradually come back into the building when SIP is lifted, it will be in order of who is having the hardest time working from home. Not to spoil it for you, but anchors will probably be among the last to come back into the building.

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10 hours ago, MidwestTV said:

That's all wonderful until someone critical loses power at their home and doesn't have a backup generator. Or someone doesn't have access to/can't afford high speed internet and the station won't foot the bill or reimburse the employee (that's happening now). Or someone suddenly loses internet for who knows how long, someone doesn't have the space at home, someone just doesn't have a suitable home to WFH at all...the list goes on. 

 

Valid concerns that I'm sure would be addressed before relying on something. I'm not claiming or supporting WFH will be the future in the near term, but there are plenty of solutions I can think of already to address these concerns. Just as there are "risks" with WFH, there can be similar things in person. What happens if an anchor falls down the steps and breaks their hip on the way to the studio to do a show? What if the production control automation freezes 5 min before air? What happens if a live shot is lost? What if there is heavy traffic and a crew is late? There are solutions to these issues, so these concerns don't prevent us from doing them in the first place.

 

9 hours ago, RCA TK47 said:

I don't see this WFH option becoming the norm.  IMHO, every day that this WFH thing drags on, it makes the anchors and reporters look less and less like a cohesive news team.  People reporting live from their living room/bedroom/basement makes it look like they don't even go out to do a story.   I can maybe see reporters working from home in the future-- but no more live shots from the house.... it looks silly.

 

I generally agree WFH won't be the norm, but it could introduce new efficiencies or options overall. 

 

As for reporting from home, that is generally a temporary thing due to the pandemic. Some station groups have an almost blanket prohibition against in-person interviews right now unless you get explicit permission and it's necessary, leaving most interview and news gathering to video chat.

 

I'm not advocating this, but once the pandemic is over, or if we are imagine a scenario where WFH is the norm, then reporters and photographers would meet up at a site to gather news, file pkgs, report live, etc. It wouldn't look any different other than maybe they wouldn't be presenting in studio, but that could still be an option if needed. Drop in for 30 mins and be done with it. 

 

8 hours ago, Webovision said:

noone is saying everyone will work at home... but the people who can, will... 

 

if you give them the option, some will take it... and some will not... their choice... as long as the work gets done, who cares??? it is a benefit that makes the job enticing... 

 

there are reasons why "tv people"  leave it to work in other industries... 

Yeah, I'd be nice to like, work from home a few days per week whenever you feel like it for life flexibility. Parents would have many reasons to do so as well. For me, sometimes I'm just not in the mood to be around people but am still able to work. Would be nice to just decide to work from home that day and not take a PTO day. 

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Anyone seeing a return to normalcy in their respective market? I noticed KTLAs Sam Rubin, who had been doing live entertainment reports from home for several weeks, returned to the KTLA studios this morning.  He wasn't in the same studio as Jess, Frank and Mark, but he did comment that it was nice to at least be back in the KTLA building.

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2 hours ago, FiveNews said:

Anyone seeing a return to normalcy in their respective market? I noticed KTLAs Sam Rubin, who had been doing live entertainment reports from home for several weeks, returned to the KTLA studios this morning.  He wasn't in the same studio as Jess, Frank and Mark, but he did comment that it was nice to at least be back in the KTLA building.

WTHR has had both of their weekday morning anchors back in the studio since last week. Going through their YouTube, I haven't seen any other anchors or meteorologists do the same.

Screenshot_20200509-135430_Chrome.jpg

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5 hours ago, jbnews said:

WTHR has had both of their weekday morning anchors back in the studio since last week. Going through their YouTube, I haven't seen any other anchors or meteorologists do the same.

Screenshot_20200509-135430_Chrome.jpg

Meteorologists won’t return until AT LEAST May 29th, from what I’m told. 

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13 hours ago, jbnews said:

WTHR has had both of their weekday morning anchors back in the studio since last week. Going through their YouTube, I haven't seen any other anchors or meteorologists do the same.

Screenshot_20200509-135430_Chrome.jpg

 

No Social distancing.  None Whatsoever.

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4 hours ago, Gavin said:

 

No Social distancing.  None Whatsoever.

Actually, they are. That's six feet apart & they normally sit closer together.

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KATU has brought their morning team back to the studio. But, of course, still social-distancing.

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TVNewsCheck has another article out regarding groups strongly looking at keeping some aspects of "social distancing" around, previously discussed with Fox, and this one now includes Gray and Tegna.

 

https://tvnewscheck.com/article/top-news/249724/no-going-back-to-pre-covid-workflows/

 

Tegna on employees being in the building:

Quote

“There’s no going back to what it was before this started,” said Robert Lydick, VP of information technology and station operations for Tegna. “Some of the workflows and some of the innovation that’s happened has put us in a much better place than we were, even pre-COVID.”

...

At one point, Tegna had 85% of its employees across the group working from home. That number has dropped to around 80% as a few employees have returned to stations to address particular job functions, generally those where someone has to physically touch a piece of on-premise hardware. For example, Lydick said that directors remotely switching shows from home, as some stations have successfully done, makes him nervous. More employees will likely come back to the station, he added, but there “still has to be a business or journalistic or efficiency reason for going into a facility.”

 

Fox and Tegna on staff in the buildings and possible severe weather coverage contingencies:
 

Quote

When asked when things might somewhat normalize and more staff might return to stations, Friedel said that in six months things would likely still be the same. In fact, without a vaccine in place he’s worried about a resurgence of COVID-19 this winter and is planning accordingly.

Friedel said that Fox’s news workflows are running well now and the stations are done experimenting. Instead they are focused on preparing for natural disasters like tornadoes and hurricanes, particularly the Fox stations in the South.

 

“We’re hardening stuff and putting stuff in place for what we believe is going to be the long haul,” Friedel said.

 

Many employees will never return to work five days a week at the station, he added, but instead will continue working from home and come in occasionally for meetings. Friedel thinks that will be a benefit for many staffers who have lengthy commutes or significant family commitments like child or elder care.
 

Tegna has a similar mindset, and Lydick said the new workflows bring  improvements to many roles including reporters, editors and producers. The group is also focused on preparing for severe weather coverage this summer. That includes rethinking disaster contingency plans, since previous backup facilities like PBS stations may not be able host Tegna staffers due to social distancing concerns. Some markets are building switchers or “go-kits” in their parking garages.

 

Another consideration for hurricane coverage is that to be safe Tegna never allows a reporter to cover a storm solo. But Lydick noted that social distancing is rather difficult inside a Ford Escape compact SUV. So Tegna is buying the same kind of plexiglass dividers that taxis use to separate a photographer in the driver’s seat from a reporter in the back, or vice versa (Friedel said Fox is doing the same thing).

 

Gray:

Quote

“We’ve always tried to push field crews to work remotely, and now it’s more of a necessity than a want,” Moore said. “I think down the road it could turn out to be really good for our newsrooms and our people who are turning out content every day, and for our on-call folks. You’re on call now, and instead of having to come into the station if you get called — if you’re a producer on call on the weekend — maybe you take the work-from-home kit that gets you into turning your content and your shows faster. It’s opened a lot of doors and paved a lot of new roads for us to explore as we go forward.”

 

So, yeah. Even if this disappears in the coming weeks, I think the damage is done. These groups have seen the "efficiency" in not having everyone come to the station to work. Fewer people in the office means less space is needed, and less space saves money.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/7/2020 at 5:12 PM, MidwestTV said:

That's all wonderful until someone critical loses power at their home and doesn't have a backup generator. Or someone doesn't have access to/can't afford high speed internet and the station won't foot the bill or reimburse the employee (that's happening now). Or someone suddenly loses internet for who knows how long, someone doesn't have the space at home, someone just doesn't have a suitable home to WFH at all...the list goes on. Chiefly, it is supremely easier to communicate when everyone is in the same building. This is all fine and dandy assuming everything works 100% of the time. This is just suits wondering how they can cut costs when - ironically - a lot of them will be retired in 5-10 years.

He whole high speed internet thing slightly worries me. A good deal of the country has Comcast. Before they reportedly set a cap for 250GB a month and supposedly it’s been raised to 1TB. I don’t think they’ve ever cut off a user because of it but I’ve heard of throttling from them and other providers.  So if an anchor has a camera that’s live an is splitting the load via LiveU with two or three cell modems and wired internet and the internet starts throttling quality breaks up. 
 

Another instance I heard was via Fios a few years back. A man setup a decent sized cloud for himself and family using the gigabit plan. People were not sending files 24/7 but it was enough for Verizon to make the man get a business connection. It was at the time maybe 10 TB, family wasn’t accessing it daily but it was enough to make Verizon threaten their account. 
 

Creative Services would be another thing I think would be risky. Say you have them at home to cut a few spots for the evening and late News? You have the, record it as normally and send the files to them. Now with my experience with Comcast and other people’s FiOS is that they almost never get the advertised speeds consistently (maybe if the house is wired) but WiFi maybe not.  So you’ll be sending the CSD maybe a few minutes of 50Mbps content to cut to a promo but you need it back in the hour. Will their speed allow you to download a gig of more of video quickly, turn it around, and upload at an almost slower rate on something critical? If they’re doing this daily I could see internet throttled unless the company hooks them up with a business connection. 
 

Spann has a gigabit connection and his whole home is new and wired for gigabit Ethernet and has a mesh WiFi network. So he has no issue but others may afford it. 

 

 

Edited by rkolsen

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Watching the SpaceX launch coverage, the two anchors appeared close together (raising the social distancing question in my mind), but using an angle shot, you could see Plexiglas between them. From the head on shot, it was barely visible, but you could see the reflections from the side.

 

Could this Realistically work on a local news set?
 

That being said, recently watching a WCAV/CBS19 newscast from Charlottesville, VA, all of the talent was in studio - with lots of packages, each from a different reported doing a live standup before and after...

 

Jim

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1 hour ago, compubit said:

Watching the SpaceX launch coverage, the two anchors appeared close together (raising the social distancing question in my mind), but using an angle shot, you could see Plexiglas between them. From the head on shot, it was barely visible, but you could see the reflections from the side.

 

Could this Realistically work on a local news set?
 

That being said, recently watching a WCAV/CBS19 newscast from Charlottesville, VA, all of the talent was in studio - with lots of packages, each from a different reported doing a live standup before and after...

 

Jim

I think that it can work if done properly. But that depends on the type of set that each station has. Some can put a plexiglass on to ensure the social distancing between talent on the desk, others may not be able to put a plexiglass on there

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WXIA's Ron Jones is going back to the home studio for "possibly a month or more." He must've been filling in for someone.

 

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