(WKBN) – With concerns about COVID-19 growing every day, more and more of the staff members at WKBN and WYTV have started working from home or out of the office.
The newsroom is nearly empty now — something that’s extremely rare.
WKBN executive producer Kristy is working from home with her 8-year-old daughter Sophia. She’s been producing the 6:00 news from home since Thursday.
“It’s a little bit challenging,” Kristy said. “Not as quick as it would be as if I were in the newsroom but we’re doing the best that we can.”
Krystle, who produces the hour-long 5:00 newscast, is working from her home in Austintown.
Our web manager, Chelsea, is working from her kitchen table.
Others haven’t even been to the station, including Gerry Ricciutti, who recently came back to Ohio after traveling.
“For the last several days, I’ve been working out of my house as an abundance of caution takes over everyone in the newsroom,” he said.
Some of our employees still have to come in, though. The ones that do are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and everyone else safe.
Our on-camera journalists are doing their best to practice social distancing, which isn’t easy to do. A lot of our reporters are putting their stories together in a news car.
“I just set up the laptop. I’m going to begin editing the story I’ve been working on in just about a minute,” Nadine Grimley said.
“Recently, we’ve all had to make some adjustments to our workflow and so I’m currently working out of my station car,” Jennifer Rodriguez said.
If an interview can’t be done over the phone, we are making sure to keep as much distance as possible.
Every workspace is kept clean.
“I have my sanitary wipes, make sure that we’re wiping everything down regularly — our microphones, steering wheels, everything that we come in contact with,” Jennifer said.
But there’s always at least one person in the newsroom. Oftentimes, that’s our managing editor, Kristen, who’s listening to police scanners and answering the phone.
“Checking emails for closures and cancellations, the latest news that’s coming out, working with the other stations across the country,” she said.
Things have changed on set, too. In the studio, the two anchors must sit six feet apart and reporters stay in the newsroom instead of going live in the studio.
Our meteorologists can work from home, but their best resources are at the station.
“It’s more of compiling all of the different items that do feed right into the weather center here that we are staying here for that reason, just so that we can get that information out as needed as quickly as we can,” Paul Wetzl said.
“It’s a new way of doing things and it’s not quite as easy as it’s been to work in the newsroom, but this is what we have to do and we’ll keep doing it,” Gerry said.
Even at six feet away, from a kitchen table or from the back seat of a car, our number-one priority is bringing you the latest, most accurate news and weather from all over the Valley.
That won’t change.