‘Covering’ the coronavirus: our reporters’ perspective

‘Covering’ the coronavirus: our reporters’ perspective
‘Covering’ the coronavirus: our reporters’ perspective © France 24

What first looked like a local story, the coronavirus outbreak has in the space of a few weeks impacted people from all corners of the world, including the staff in the FRANCE 24 newsroom. As France prepares its gradual exit from confinement in May, this fourth episode of “Covering” takes a look at how the Covid-19 crisis unfolded and how it has impacted our journalists’ lives and work.

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“When I was talking about this virus with the editors of FRANCE 24 back in Paris in January, in February, they were telling me to be careful, to be safe, and I did not think that I would be the one saying that to them just a few weeks, a few months later,” said our correspondent in China, Charles Pellegrin. From Wuhan, the Covid-19 outbreak then spread to more than 200 countries and territories in the past months, leaving half of humanity under some form of lockdown.

The crisis also meant a major “paradigm shift” in and out of the newsroom, with greater reliance on the internet, most of the staff working from home, and those in the field having to take unprecedented security measures to keep themselves and others safe.

“We try to maintain the so-called security distance between us and the interviewee. We try to wash the cameras regularly, avoid using hand mics and we try to reduce the time outside,” says FRANCE 24 reporter Clovis Casali. “Because you are spending a lot of time outside you are more exposed, but of course nothing in comparison with the hospital workers, street cleaners, those who are really on the frontline in this war on the virus.”  

A human and economic toll

“Covering such immense death tolls, and the struggles of the healthcare workers trying to deal with this, trying to give their all, or even the supermarket workers […] I think all of that has brought it back home, how this has impacted everybody and every life,” explains Seema Gupta, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Italy. The fact that the crisis has left many people unemployed and fighting to put food on the table is “very sobering”, she says, and “makes you think about this health emergency being an economic and social emergency as well.”

Now, as many countries start to prepare for the end of lockdown measures, people have started wondering if things will ever be the same again.

“There will be no obvious way to turn the page," says Gallagher Fenwick, director of FRANCE 24 English. "It’s going to be what we decide to do collectively, but also individually, as we come out of it.”

Click on the player above to watch episode 4 of our video series “Covering”.

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