VOA Journalists Get Creative Amidst Coronavirus Isolation

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread and sheltering-at-home becomes the new workplace, the Voice of America, the country's largest international broadcaster, has vacated its newsrooms and is conducting its broadcasts remotely from the homes of its journalists, hundreds of them, across the globe.

VOA provides news in 40-plus languages to an audience it estimates at 280 million, and usually does so out of almost 50 newsrooms/studio facilities. Those have now morphed into makeshift home studios to report from China and Korea, Iran, Russia and many more countries with 1,800 hours per week of programming.

"COVID-19 has created enormous challenges to our global newsroom operations, which has been met by a blossoming level of innovation by our reporters, producers and editors to adapt to news reporting during this global pandemic," said VOA director Amanda Bennett of the now even more far-flung correspondents.

The newly appointed home studios include an ironing board anchor desk in a living room studio at VOA Bosnia, a coat closet radio studio with clothes doubling as soundproofing to muffle background noise in VOA Korea, a bathroom (news) break with a shower curtain as a cityscape backdrop for live remotes from Celia Mendoza, a VOA Spanish service broadcaster (pictured above), and a plastic tablecloth green screen at VOA Armenia (to see how a wall becomes a window on the world, check out this short video).


The virus has also hit close to home for the international broadcaster. Former VOA head Jeff Shell (he is past chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors) tested positive for the virus.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.