Resources: How journalists can rethink our relationship with work during a pandemic

For the humans working at or leading news organizations, a list of shared resources curated by OpenNews

Working from home during a global pandemic isn’t the same as working from home any other day. This is especially true for journalists as we try to help people make sense of a crisis while experiencing crisis ourselves. Our expectations of work from just a few weeks ago don’t work any more—not while each of us is social distancing, taking care of loved ones, and trying to keep our own selves healthy, too.

But here’s what we also know to be true: As a community, we’re capable of rallying to this moment. When newsrooms cover a crisis while living through it, we lift up those journalists in solidarity, and pitch in our time, money, and expertise. Moments like these remind us that our colleagues are human beings who need love and support. None of us knows what’s coming next, but we do know a lot about helping each other.

This guide draws on work this community has been doing for years. We pulled it together because:

You’ll find questions and resources for:

Talk about them with your team. Use what you need most. If knowing that everyone else is trying to figure this out helps you talk about it, too, that’s great. And if you’ve found something that’s really working for your team, we hope you’ll share it with the community (and us too).


COVID–19 changed everything—How do I adapt? How do we adapt together?

Our community has been encouraging newsrooms to get more comfortable with remote work for a while now—through planning and purpose, though, not a choice made for us by a pandemic. Now many of us are suddenly working from home without all the support we need, in a shared space that wasn’t designed for our jobs, communicating through a whole new set of cues. This is a time to redefine how we imagine productivity and to be there for each other with grace.

The boundaries between our personal and professional lives are also more porous than usual right now. If you can, let who you are, where you are, and what you love spill into work—not the other way around. When your cat wanders into frame or one of your kids marches in through the home-office door during a video call, your colleagues won’t mind. They’ll celebrate.


My partner and I are trying to balance working from home with taking care of the kids—how do we make this easier?

“A long time ago—like, last week—we would have talked about setting up a home workspace and setting personal schedules. But this is a new world now.”

My roommates/partner and I are all working from home in a small space. How do we make sense of this sudden, new co-working space that we live in and can’t leave?


What are immediate changes we need to make to our communication practices?

“You are going to have to listen fiercely, speak openly, make decisions even when no good options present themselves, and admit that you just don’t know what’s coming. You are going to have to stay calm and present even as the fire rages.”


How can I help build healthy team culture & practices with my colleagues?

How can I support the people I work with outside of work?

↪ There are lots of ways to build great team culture. If something's working for your team, tweet it, Slack it, post it—whatever works for you—so that we all can try it too. (And then let us know, so we can add it here.)


How do I maintain a healthy balance between doing my job and taking care of myself and/or loved ones?

How do I make sense of how I’m feeling right now?

“We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. … We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.”

Where do I go if I want to talk about this with other journalists?


As a freelance journalist, how do I navigate sudden changes affecting me and the organizations I work with?

↪ This section could really use your expertise. What have you seen out there that’s been really helpful for freelancers? Let us know.


How do I lead as thoughtfully as possible?

Make sure you’re not conflating two key points: working from home vs. working in physical isolation during a global pandemic. Both are happening simultaneously and your team will continue to experience lots of changes—both at work and at home—all while leaning harder on tools some of them have only used somewhat before. Be “massively empathetic” and let that guide you through the rest.


What does my team need to hear from me right now? What should I proactively communicate to preempt anxiety and enable good work?

“We will assume positive intent. These are hard times. Everyone is going through tough personal situations and stressors. This can cause folks to lash out in frustration or fear. As a team we will rigidly assume positive intent and operate with empathy with our stakeholders, our peers, and each other.”

How do I even start thinking about a plan?

↪ It can be really helpful to talk this stuff through. You can find other managers and editors talking with each other about shared challenges in the Journalists of Color Slack, News Nerdery Slack, and ONA Community Circles.


How can I equip my team and myself to support one another as human beings experiencing a pandemic?

How do I help someone on my team who is struggling?

I need to make tough decisions as quickly as possible, how do I make sure I’m basing them in the values I hold important?

“In overwhelming times, easier things often get done first, while harder, more complicated problems wait. But we need to spend time on the harder things, and to do so now, so here’s a guide to make upholding your diversity, equity and inclusivity values during a pandemic—one step easier.”

How do I model a healthy balance between doing my job and taking care of myself and/or loved ones?

What expectations do I need to change now that my entire team works from home?


Where can I find guidance on covering COVID–19 as a newsroom?

Where can I find a good general guide for working from home?