Sharing a piece from the front line, where professional broadcast news teams have been working, capturing & sharing news about the COVID19 epidemic.
Credits to Edward Laurence for sharing / posting this to the Facebook Group ‘News And Current Affairs Camera Operators’.
Some simple & pragmatic information herein. I did also recently watch a Sydney emergency paramedic do the some thing mentioned in the article, he was on the side of the road rubbing down / dissinfecting all his kit while wearing rubber gloves & mask.
We have folded some of these cleanliness lessons into our procedures for all client shoots . Should they still be legally able to go ahead whilst this epidemic & official Govt. advice develops.
CORONAVIRUS – my personal advice for shoot/ edits and video journalists. by Edward Laurence
Hello everyone, I’m one of the BBC’s China camera journalists and I’ve been covering the coronavirus story on the ground here since Jan – including a trip into locked-down Hubei province on the frontline. I’ve outlined some of my thoughts below. These are the precautions my team and I have been taking.
I must stress that this isn’t any sort of official BBC guidance or advice (I don’t want to be quoted in any tabloid media).
This is purely my personal thoughts on the precautions I’ve been taking. I’m three months in…
By no means has our coverage or work stopped at any point (I was even cutting in quarantine). Despite the virus, we’ve still been out on the road when we can, we’ve voxd people when we can and when we think it’s safe to do so, and we’ve been producing pieces as much as we can. It’s just that we’ve had to think differently about how we do things – and in some instances find different ways to tell the story or even conduct interviews.
For those of you who’ve also been covering the virus, feel free to add thoughts/ chat below. It’s important that we all (staff or freelance) have open discussions about safety. Most importantly, it’s nothing to panic about.
– Our policy in China has been to monitor temperature every day. Temperature checks won’t detect all coronavirus cases but you may show a high temperature if you have it. We’ve run a policy that if your temperature is high or you feel unwell, don’t travel into work and monitor yourself and symptoms. That has been our strict policy to avoid potentially spreading to colleagues. It might also be a good idea to monitor those you live with too. You may also wish to think about where they have travelled to, or who they’ve met too. The last thing you want to do is carry an infection into work.
– If using public transport, in China, I’ve been wearing latex gloves, a facemask and most importantly washing hands. I carry hand sanitiser and sometimes anti-bac wipes too. I’m not saying don’t use public transport. We have all done so throughout this period. Don’t be scared but just think more about what you touch and droplet infection. Keep distance if you can. Some of you may be able to take work vehicles home? Be cautious of putting bags or kit on the floor.
– Some of you may even be able to deploy directly from home rather than the office? We need to think about how we can still operate if the work building suddenly shuts down, but for many of you in large offices, you may wish to deploy from home and limit social interactions.
–Heading out on location
– Who are you interviewing? Do you need to actually head out/ interview the contributor? Can it be done via Facetime or Skype? You may want to avoid contact with people who’ve potentially been in touch with people who may have the virus – doctors and medical staff on the frontline etc. If you’re not comfortable, just say. But definitely take the extra time with your team to consider who that person is, and the potential risks. Are you a risk to that person? Are they more vulnerable/ susceptible to the virus? Do you need to stay away from them?
– During a trip to the Chinese frontline – to interview a suspected coronavirus case at a hospital, we obviously didn’t want to talk face to face. That was completely off limits. We filmed a facetime call with the patient but from stood outside the hospital they were in. Facetime interviews can look bad as stand-alone screen-records but you can be creative shooting these things yourself. For us, standing outside with the reporter on the phone, worked well with a sense of the location and story. We’ve still interviewed others in person, but we’ve just avoided people who are ‘high risk’.
– Clip mics – I personally have avoided using these on anyone other than colleagues. My correspondent uses a clip mic, but I know where he’s been and I know he’s taking much of the same precautions as I. It might be best to use a hand mic. I’ve used what is effectively a camera top mic with a wireless transmitter plugged into the bottom for interviews. At the end of the day, I take off the black sponge and wash it in hot water and anti-bac soap. You can also wipe the handle too.
– You or your correspondent may even wish to use a boom pole for a metre of distance. It might sound silly but it’s up to you. A good opportunity for depth of field too I suppose.
– Carry latex gloves, masks, hand sanitiser and wipes to clean kit and hands. Pack spares in your kit bag. Latex gloves are the best on location I find. My skin started to suffer using sanitiser. Much easier to just glove up for an hour or two. There is some debate about how effective facemasks are – but it certainly reduces the chances of you coughing droplets out – and also makes you more aware of not touching your face.
CLEAN YOUR KIT.
It’s the thing you’re touching the most. I clean my camera gear, keyboard etc regularly. I carry anti-bac wipes to clean it in the field. Most importantly clean it at the start and end of the day. You may even wish to clean it before it enters the building or your vehicle. Wipe everything.
CLEAN YOUR DEVICES.
Cards in wallet etc. In China we don’t use cash and instead pay via phone or with contactless sometimes too. We’re not touching any coins or cash ever…
– Are you using a work car, pool vehicle or hire car? WIPE IT DOWN… I’m sure most of you do this anyway. In Hubei province, I spent 20-30 mins wiping down our vehicle before anyone entered – seats, steering wheel, buttoms, handles etc etc.
– Not sure if this exists, but it might be worth keeping a log of who’s been driving each pool/ company vehicle and when/ where. If someone picks up the virus, you then know who may need to isolate.
– Think about what you’re touching – this may sound dramatic, but it’s really not. Wipe down the bottle of water you’ve just bought from the shop. I have a rule that anything entering my apartment, edit suite or work vehicle must be wiped down. That’s just a personal rule. My correspondent Stephen bought me a drink from a shop the other day –but wiped it down right away before giving it to me. We’ve all got used to doing it.
– Voiceover & earpiece – we didn’t use the lip mic in Hubei and we haven’t used it since. My correspondent provides the track via his Marantz or through his own clip-on mic. If you’re dedicated to working with only one correspondent and it’s only ever he or she who uses the lip mic, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to use it. We’ve ditched them altogether for the time being.
STOP sharing earpieces. Your correspondent should use their own. If push comes to shove, they can use some standard earphones of their own in my view. My correspondent has his own earpieces. I don’t touch them nor does anyone else.
– You may wish to consider vitamins. It goes without saying that we work long and unpredictable hours and that can make us vulnerable. Some of my colleagues and I have been taking a number of vitamins to strengthen our immune systems. Diet is essential too.
– Be patient. Things will take longer and there will be more to do, but everyone benefits.
– Keep distances from people. Be careful where you cough – use your elbow and maybe remind contributors to do so too. Don’t shake hands. Maybe even offer your contributor some hand sanitiser before your interview.
HEADING INTO A DANGER ZONE?
– Do you have any underlying health conditions, or problems affecting your immune system? If you do, you may be sensible not to go. You also may not wish to go if any of your immediate family have any of those issues too.
– Do your research. One thing we’ve learned so far from this virus is that things can change within hours – sudden lockdowns, bans on certain nationalities being able to travel or enter areas, sudden huge rises in cases, entry and exit restrictions. Have contingency plans for sickness on location, entry/ exit plans etc, and the prospect that you might be stuck there for much longer than planned.
– Wipe down your hotel room. Wipe everything down – light switches, surfaces, toilet seats etc etc. You probably don’t want to be eating in the hotel restaurant, drinking in the bar or having a leisurely coffee in the local Starbucks. For us, our vehicle was our safe space for drinking coffee and eating. It’s shit but you get used to it. I also packed a small supply of sealed dried food, and snacks inside the car – should we have got stuck somewhere (as all shops were locked down and closed for miles).
– You also probably don’t want to be purchasing food or drink from shops outside of an affected hospital or isolation facility etc.
– Wipe down anything before it enters your vehicle or hotel room – and that includes your shoes. You may even wish to cover your shoes on location.
– Wipe down any public transport. We tried to avoid public transport but had to use a train to get to the town where we had to pick up our car. We travelled on the train in a carriage with far less people. We wiped everything – seats, tables, windows etc down.
Protective equipment. Take the basics – gloves, masks, wipes etc, but plan for the worst and take the more significant stuff too. What if you get stuck there? What if you end up sick and having to go to a local health facility (which is likely to be very high risk?). Have you got full protective clothing and perhaps a full face covering (a helmet and screen) on standby perhaps?
– To travel into Hubei, before anyone got into our vehicle, I wiped everything down for a good 20 minutes – steering wheel, gear stick, handles, seats etc. Allow extra time and be thorough.
– It probably sounds patronising to say this, but if one member of the team doesn’t want to do something, don’t do it. We all volunteered to head into Hubei and had a good team dynamic on the road. We planned thoroughly for a number of different scenarios and made sure that everyone was comfortable – and that included our local driver too.
– Avoid placing equipment on the floor. I broke my own rule here a few times in Hubei but wiped things down thoroughly afterwards – before it entered the vehicle again.
– If returning from a high-risk location – for instance a locked-down town or region, you will probably need to quarantine for 14 days. Have plans for that and take it seriously. I had food and supplies delivered to me and couldn’t leave for 14 days. I checked and noted down my temperature and how I was feeling twice a day too. Plan to be able to entertain yourself – I didn’t do this and it was horrific. Take the isolation seriously and actually isolate. Don’t go to starbucks, or to see your family. Think about the safety of everyone more vulnerable than you.
– Hot wash all of your clothes on return. You may even wish to soak/ handwash/ scrub some clothing thoroughly and you can do this for the stuff that might shrink too. I even soaked my shoes in boiling hot water and anti-bac soap. If you feel something needs to be thrown out, life is tough -throw it.