Commuting across the room

Who’d have thought we’d all be having a plague year? A kind of year several generations of people never saw.

As a journalist based at BBC Broadcasting House in London, I have seen some big changes to the way I work since the lockdown began in Britain in March.

One is the form of the news. Now the daily live page is the main focus of the BBC website’s resources and rightly so as the coronavirus pandemic stalks the planet. What that has meant for me personally is editing or subbing a stream of content, with the line between World and UK news blurred. And for want of a newsroom there’s the Slack app and Zoom. Occasionally I will be writing or editing stand-alone web stories or cutting video but to date, most of my shifts seem to have been absorbed by the live page.

The other change is how I work physically. My trusty old BBC MacBook Pro, friend from overseas reporting trips and essential tool for my video reports, has now become my mobile BBC bureau. Because of social distancing, my colleagues and I have been regularly asked to work from home. So on a screen in my front room I find myself producing news for the world while the binmen go to work outside my window. Yes, I do still wear trousers.

At the same time, some roles on World Online require you to be there at Broadcasting House so I still come in regularly. Every shift begins with the search for a desk at a safe distance from others and then a laborious, careful wiping-down of the work station. If the pandemic has a smell for me, it is the smell of surgical spirit. If it has a texture, it is cotton on my lips.

So it’s either my front room or Broadcasting House but nowhere else for now. I had hopes of getting back to Europe this year for new reporting trips but that’s all on hold.


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