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Dagbladet considers newsroom life after COVID-19

By Alexandra Beverfjord

Dagbladet

Oslo, Norway

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There are opportunities where there is a huge news interest, and traditional media have gained a strengthened position.

The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet has run continuous live coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic’s development on Dagbladet.no and Dagbladet TV. Both have delivered countless news updates, live broadcasts, articles, expert interviews, comments, and reports. The newspaper also experienced an enormous growth in use, both on the free site and Web TV.

The past year has been challenging, but it also exposed opportunities for newsrooms, like the one at Dagbladet, as they move into the future.
The past year has been challenging, but it also exposed opportunities for newsrooms, like the one at Dagbladet, as they move into the future.

But we have also had to deal with new challenges. As a newspaper, it is our job to report what is happening. People need to be interviewed. Press conference protocols must be followed. Travel to unsafe areas must be completed. Assessing and reducing the risk of infection remains an important part of our everyday work.

At Dagbladet, as in many other newsrooms, many employees have worked from home offices this year without the opportunity for collegial gatherings and fellowship at work. Even the newspaper version is now produced from a home office, which would have been almost unthinkable a few years ago.

Benefits and challenges

In Norway, as in many other countries, mass vaccination has started. We see society is gradually waking up to a new way of life, with old and new challenges. We are working on a plan for editorial life after the pandemic and after mass vaccination.

And, what have we really learned? Here are some of our experiences with the new ways of working during the lockdown:

Benefits:

  • Home offices are effective for reporters when the editorial staff can obtain interviews and make reports.
  • Home offices are effective for reporters who work on larger projects over time.
  • Home offices mean many people experience their everyday work as more flexible.
  • It is easier to have meetings with external people who are physically far away because it is more natural to have digital meetings now.
  • In terms of products, it is easier to obtain experts, professionals, and open sources via digital platforms. This makes the breaking work of online TV better and more accurate.

Challenges:

  • The creative processes and strategic work are more challenging when they can’t happen in person.
  • Travel activities are declining, which means people don’t get close to each other for meetings and interviews, neither domestically nor internationally.
  • It is easier to make mistakes when the means of control are at a distance.
  • It can be more challenging for middle management to follow up with employees in the home office.
  • The culture in the workplace is challenged when interpersonal contact is absent.

Before we move back

At Dagbladet, we are now working to figure out how best to reopen. We will, of course, have parts of our old workday back. However, the form of work we acquired during the pandemic also showed us some new opportunities we want to adopt.

Here are some of the developments we see:

  • To a greater extent, we will distinguish between the type of work where there is a clear advantage of physical presence (areas that drive ongoing publishing, strategy processes, and creative processes) and the work where home office can be an advantage (larger projects, specialisation, and concentration work).
  • To a greater extent, we will be able to offer a more flexible working life.
  • Because so many have become so familiar with digital meetings, this could open up opportunities for closer and better collaborations with partners operating elsewhere in the world.
  • The need for travel in connection with work will probably be somewhat reduced.
  • There will be an increased need for better digital equipment to utilise the potential of the new digital work environment in the future.

There are many indications that working life in the media industry will never be the same post-coronavirus, and we believe we will have an even better working life due to our new experiences.

About Alexandra Beverfjord

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