The life of a sports journalist during COVID-19 pandemic

Many industries have faced numerous challenges during the pandemic, we take a look at how a sport’s journalist has adapted.

It’s been over a year since the pandemic started and lockdown restrictions were announced.

Many industries were affected and were forced to adapt and none more so than journalists.

Journalists, worldwide, were forced to work from home and still expected to create, write and publish stories that were newsworthy.

Forced to adapt, journalists, looked to online streaming where they could record or broadcast interviews.

One such journalist is Andy Herman, who covers the NFL team, the Green Bay Packers in America, and despite facing the many challenges the pandemic caused found some positives out of it.

Andy Herman speaks to us about his experience as a journalist during the pandemic

When asked about the difficulties, Andy unexpectedly didn’t face that many, on the contrary, he found positives in the situation he was in.

Andy said: “I mean, just, you know, reducing the travel, you know, it definitely made it a little bit harder to ask like follow-up questions and things like that. You know, when you’re asking a question, then you have to kind of re-raise your hand and kind of get back in line. And usually, there’s not the time to be able to do that.

Everyone kind of just gets one question and sometimes there are times you don’t get a question at all. So, there are definitely challenging things there, but for the most part, like I said, for me personally, and I think I’m definitely in the minority here, but it was probably a little bit of an advantage for me.”

Andy’s workspace during the pandemic lockdown

With the change of moving from face to face to online streaming for interviews, Andy was asked if there were any major differences in quality and if there were any unexpected positives.

Andy said: “I think you always lose a little bit of that personal interaction when you lose that face to face and have it be a zoom, but at the same time, I think some players had, came out of their shell a little bit more, you know, and I think it’s a little bit less intimidating and, you know, for, for anyone that’s been in a locker room, you know, for a player that a lot of time, there’s like 10, 15, 20 people all surrounding them and it’s not the most comfortable or, easy, circumstance to try to answer questions.

And I’m sure for them, it was probably much easier to go to a podium and answer questions for 10 minutes. So, I think some players, we saw a little bit more personality and a little bit more be themselves. But again, others, I think it’s, it’s tougher to get that real personal engagement when you’re not there in person.”

As the media and journalism sectors saw vast changes, so did the sporting world more precisely, the NFL.

As the pandemic was in full swing and lockdowns were still enforced, the NFL was just about to get underway and enforced a set of strict regulations that needed to be followed by the media.

Andy said: “Yeah. So, there were a couple of things and that was maybe one thing that definitely came up differently. So, um, you know, first of all, for training camp and, you know, they basically had two sets of reporters.

They had a group of like five or six of their normal, like everyday beat writers that had access to the team that was getting COVID tested every single day, that had a much higher level of access.

And then everyone else sat in the stands where the fans would normally sit, at, you know, at Nitschke field and whatnot. And, you know, so you didn’t have, you weren’t, you know, right there on the sidelines or whatever, but you were still up in the stands, but they really limited what you could and couldn’t tweet about or writing articles because there were no fans, and they didn’t want to give out any competitive advantage.”

Green Bay Packers training at Nitschke field

With such large changes taken such as all interviews and press conferences being conducted online, We asked Andy if organizations in the sports and media world will incorporate the things they have learned and used over the course of the pandemic such as zoom calls.

Andy said:” Yeah. It’s going to be really interesting to see how that works. So, I do think that they’re going to do some of that, incorporating the zoom in certain situations and scenarios. I know journalists want to get back in the locker rooms and talking to players as quickly as possible because that’s such a big part of what they do.

So, I think there’s a fine line. I think it’s really important. And again, for me, it’s not that huge of a deal, but I think for sports as a whole and for sports journalism, it’s really important that a lot of that happens in person.

So, you know, I would like to see that return to normal as soon as it possibly can. But, for me personally, I’d also like to see, some zoom availabilities and stuff like that, just to make it easier, you know, on uncovering the team remotely and not having to go into the stadium every single time there’s a press conference or, something like that. 

So, I would like to see somehow get the best of both worlds if possible. But I do think it’s important that they open things back up when it’s safe to do so.”

To get another perspective, we also talked with fellow journalist, Ross Uglem, who follows both the Green Bay Packers and North Dakota State.



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