At-home broadcasts have become ubiquitous as everyone from journalists to late-night hosts hunker down where they live during the COVID-19 pandemic. Voice of America (VOA), the news broadcaster delivering journalism to more than 280 million people in 40 languages weekly, is no different.
VOA broadcasts across digital, television and radio platforms with content distributed through mobile and social-media channels in addition to satellite, cable, FM, MW, SW and over 2,500 affiliate stations around the world.
Launched in 1942, VOA’s reporters have provided a trusted and necessary voice during major historical moments. The nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, has required VOA’s team to develop new ways of connecting with the world.
VOA journalists have come up with interesting ways to engage with their audience — finding make-shift desks and converting spaces like bathrooms and closets into studios at a time when their work is critical. The result: almost 50 unique newsrooms broadcasting from homes around the world in places like China, Iran, the Korean Peninsula and Russia.
Because VOA’s journalists are reporting in many formats, the challenges associated with creating quality work increase.
“I am constantly in awe of the creativity and ingenuity of our journalists who are committed to continuing to provide a free and fair press, regardless of how dire the situation,” stated Amanda Bennett, Voice of America Director.
In one instance of in-home ingenuity, VOA Armenian journalist Arman Tarjimanyan turned a $1 green plastic tablecloth into a green screen by taping it to the wall. Tarjimanyan uses the method to record stand-up news segments.
VOA Korean reporter Seeyoung Kim created a soundproof radio and video production studio from a coat closet. Kim has been reporting remotely since March 17 and was faced with issues like creating a space that could minimize background noise while narrating from a script.
Similarly, Latin America reporter Celia Mendoza is producing live remote sessions from her bathroom, where she hung a Washington, D.C. themed shower curtain as a backdrop to her broadcasts.
Bennett stated, “COVID-19 has created enormous challenges to our global newsroom operations, which has been met by a blossoming level of innovation by our reporters, producers and editors to adapt to news reporting during this global pandemic.”