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Taking care of one another

By The Newsroom Guide Editorial Team.

Last edited by Lindsay Muscato. Created .

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What we can all do

Supporting colleagues and teammates

This is a difficult time for everyone, and newsrooms are facing the challenge of balancing our responsibilities to our audiences with keeping ourselves safe and healthy. We can’t report if we’re also unwell.

Working with sources and engaging the community

What managers (especially) can do

Supporting your staff

The primary obligation of managers and editors during this pandemic is to not endanger your journalists. Second is to enable the conditions that maintain their health and safety.

Key to this is helping your staff clearly understand and effectively implement your organization’s policies. This allows them to have the information and resources they need to have agency over their lives and to make informed decisions about their safety.

We recommend:

Supporting your freelancers

This is an especially difficult time for people who do not have access to the benefits and infrastructure afforded to full-time staff.

Show support and respect for your freelance network by sharing appropriate guidance with them and actively avoiding potentially risky assignments. Similarly, be extra-timely when responding to pitches and making payments.

If your newsroom is receiving updated information about exposures in your area or new self-quarantine guidelines, proactively share these with your freelancers.

Newsroom guidance

Social distancing slows the rate of infection in a pandemic. Allowing employees to work from home without requiring them to use paid sick or vacation days helps ensure people will adopt this policy. It is worth emphasizing that the goal of working from home is to limit social contact to reduce the rate of infection, which would be undermined by heading to a local coffee shop. Consider alternate arrangements (including allowing people to work from dedicated parts of the office) for anyone who is not able to work from their residence.

Preparing your workplace

Even if most of your staff starts working from home, it is likely a few people will still have to go to your workplace; you should develop a plan for what to do if one of them becomes ill.

Remote work policies

  1. Provide clear and specific guidance on whether you are making a “recommendation” or a “rule.” Avoid creating additional ambiguity about who is needed in the office by letting those employees know directly. Ensure you have a plan for employees who cannot work from home—and avoid asking them for the reasons they need an accommodation.
  2. Be clear on whether “working from home” will require teams to use their paid sick or vacation days—and avoid this if at all possible.
  3. Be clear with interns, freelancers, and contractors on how “working from home” will specifically and uniquely affect them and their compensation and benefits.
  4. Check in with your IT and security teams on remote-working considerations. Ensure your teams have the ability to use any requisite devices (laptops, video and audio equipment) and services while remote. Work with your technology and information security teams as appropriate on the necessary steps for log-ins, shared passwords, and remote access, and provide this guidance to your reporters and editors.

Remote work practices

Many other teams have put together guides on best practices for working from home.

  1. How journalists can work from home securely
  2. 5 practical tips for managing newly remote teams during coronavirus
  3. WhereByUs uses NYT’s Library tool for docs
  4. Taking care of children

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