Imagine being a reporter during Covid-19

When you hear the term essential workers, chances are you think of the amazing healthcare staff on the front line, or the supermarket workers you see when you pick up your essentials.

But since the COVID-19 began, one essential job that we might overlook is journalists. In a way, journalists are first responders too – often not with any medical abilities but they are our eyes and ears on the front line. 

The NZ Herald called the daily 1 pm press conference “NZ’s favourite reality TV show.” With thousands of people tuning in each day to hear the updates, we thought it might be interesting to find out what exactly goes into these conferences:

The 1 pm press conferences are filled with journalists from different organisations from television, print, and radio.  The journalists ask the government questions for the public, which is particularly important while we are in lockdown and cannot do it ourselves.

Some Facts About Asking Questions in Press Meetings:

  • You have to have a membership to be in the room, and abide by the rules to keep your membership.
  • Due to the time crunch, the journalists often only get one shot to ask these questions so they have to make sure that the questions are perfect and provide context.
  • You might have heard the journalists yelling to get the politician’s attention. It is their only opportunity to ask questions because there is a rule that you cannot follow the politicians around in parliament to keep asking them.

Jessica Mutch McKay is the politics editor for TV 1 and she describes her role saying:“I need to get information from the politician, and the politician needs me to communicate that to the public.”

Ultimately, these press conferences provide journalists a chance to challenge the information to make sure it is correct and then they can present it in a way for us to easily understand.

Journalism is clearly an important field but sadly, since the beginning of the lockdown, 437 of New Zealand’s 1,600 journalists have lost their jobs. This is because newspapers make their money through advertising which has dropped with the uncertainty of the virus.

Now more than ever is a good time to be supporting news outlets if you can. And the next time you are watching the 1 pm conference stay till the questions or remember the other kind of front line workers out there. They may not be able to help cure coronavirus but having reliable news about the virus is just as important.

Lilli Scott - Feature Writer

Lilli Scott

Lilli is a second-year history and politics student at the University of Otago. She enjoys skiing in the winter and love dogs.
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