On a typical day, WBUR reporters move nimbly to the ebb and flow of an ever-changing 24-hours news cycle. But with COVID-19 no days are typical. The entire job of reporting has been upended, as reporters everywhere are forced to be creative in reporting at twice the speed, with less resources and from six feet away or more.
#CoveringCOVID is a virtual series of one-on-one interviews with our reporters, where we pull back the curtain to better understand how they do their jobs and how the pandemic has changed it all. Our first interview is with State House reporter Steve Brown.
Steve Brown: I'm Steve Brown, the senior State House reporter for WBUR and I'm here in the WBUR Statehouse Bureau.
Alex Schneps: So what do you normally report on? I know State House, but what does that exactly mean?
Steve: I am based out of this office here. Cover what the governor is doing, what the legislature is doing. Sometimes I'll get dispatched to go down, run down TO federal court or go to city hall. All these things that might be going on down in the center of town.
Alex: OK. So you're used to being able to setting up on the fly and just sort of running with whatever you've got and going with it?
Steve: Yeah, I think out of the entire WBUR staff, my routine has probably been upset the least as everybody - all my colleagues - are getting used to working remotely and working out the bugs and figuring out what works best for them. I come in here and it's the same as I've been doing for a number of years.
Alex: How does your job and what you report on - what's changed about that
Steve: I stay in the office a lot more. Again, it's conducive to social or physical distancing. I am here in this room by myself basically all day long. In a normal day, I get out and I walk through the building. I bump into people. I go see people I see every day and find out what's going on. There's probably - I would be surprised right now if there's more than 25 to 50 people physically in the State House right now.
Alex: How many people are there normally?
Steve: Hundreds. You know, every legislator you've got, you know, one hundred. And you've got 200 legislators. They're not here in the building all the time, but everyone has at least one aide. The building is usually quite packed.
Alex: So you sent me a photo. And so what is happening in this photo?
Steve: OK. The photo is a shot of Gardner Auditorium from the balcony up above. And it was one of Governor Baker's recent COVID-19 briefings. Directly below me on the first floor is room 157, which is the governor's press conference room. So he was originally having his briefings there. As social distancing became more of a thing, then they decided we're moving to Gardner Auditorium, which is the largest hearing room here in the state house. Everybody knows this is very serious. This is the most serious story I have ever covered. And we really realize it's important that I be in that room to ask questions of the governor. if I'm watching from from home on my computer or on TV. I can't throw in the questions. And they're not just my questions. They are questions from the entire WBUR staff.
(phone rings) Excuse me one second. Let me just. Yeah, Steve. Hi, can you call me back in like 10 minutes? That was news director Tom Melville.
Alex: Ah, thank you for putting him on hold for me.
Alex: All right. Last question. What do you do for fun these days?
Steve: (laughs) Well, I host on Zoom every night at eight o'clock - or every weeknight, I'm not doing it on the weekends - a WBUR staff social hour. Just bandying about with with coworkers about whatever, your kids running through the room. And so that's been the fun that I've been having: socializing remotely with all my WBUR coworkers.
Alex, thanks so much.
Alex: All right. Have a good day, Steve.
Steve: All right. You, too. Bye.
Producer - Alex Schneps
Assistant Producer - Candice Springer
Technical Advisor - Niall Foley
Music and Audio Mixing - Adam Straus
Animation - Michael Diffin