In the Times: Newspapering in the age of coronavirus
I felt bad for the Times’ assistant editor Amanda Hutchinson. No sooner had she gotten through two weeks of editing and designing the eight weekly papers we put out while I was on a two-week vacation, but on my return from Europe I had to go on a two-week quarantine to ensure I wasn’t bringing the new coronavirus into the newsroom.
(Note from Amanda: I was fine, but if I learned anything from it, it’s to never get your eyes dilated on a day when you need to do layout...)
Newspapering in the age of coronavirus sure has made life interesting. But thanks to the internet and virtual private networking, both Amanda and I managed last week to put out eight newspapers working from our desktops and laptops at home, about 20 miles apart.
I wish I could say “April Fools,” but it’s true.
We haven’t seen each other in a month now, but we still are collaborating on getting your Times papers produced every week, keeping in touch through email and phone messaging, mostly.
Amanda started working entirely from home when The Day decided to allow anyone who wanted to work remotely to do so. It only made sense to let as many people work from home as possible to reduce their exposure to the sometimes-deadly virus, and thanks to managers and information tech folks, we got it done.
A few reporters and editors, including Amanda, had been allowed to work from home in the past for various reasons, but the need for social distancing today increased the urgency to the point that we held our first remote newsroom meeting via the Zoom teleconferencing website last week.
It looked like “The Brady Bunch” as our faces spread across the screen, but it was good to see everyone in good humor, somehow managing to keep it together through these crazy times.
I’m perhaps a little more used to this social distancing thing than others, having gotten about a week’s head start. We’re already in a bit of a routine, starting our day at 8:30, breaking for a quick lunch, taking time out in the afternoon for yoga or tennis, then back to work till 5:30, when we’re off for a long walk on the beach.
At night, it’s cards or backgammon, or perhaps a movie and then a quick catch-up on the latest coronavirus update and check on our dwindling 401k savings.
We keep six feet away from people on our walks, which often include our cockapoo Maya. Tennis is just within the family so far, at least until the quarantine is over, but the club where I play is closed, so it may be a while before things return to normal.
Friends and family have been bringing us food and other needed supplies (thanks for the Flanders donuts!).
Meanwhile, work keeps us centered, and we are lucky to be able to do it from home. But I am curious what keeps you sane and feeling normal in these trying times? Please tell us your story by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to see a photo as well!
After all, we’re all in this thing together, so we might as well enjoy our time together ... uh, apart, I mean.
Lee Howard is community editor of The Day.
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