“Reading the news” (CC BY 2.0) by Rd. Vortex.
The past couple of years in the pandemic have led to massive changes in our business world where digital and remote positions grew exponentially. Changes seen in local and small businesses throughout the country include local news organizations and media outlets. This previous week I interviewed my father, Craig Veltri, who is employed by a local news organization. I asked him a variety of questions surrounding his experiences in a local news agency in the midst of the COVID-19 epidemic. The interview went as followed:
I: What is your position at your company?
Craig: I am the Product and Platform Development Manager overseeing local marketing,
social media, producing podcasts and other various newsroom projects at Gannett. I oversee the Philadelphia suburbs markets including Buck County Courier Times, The Intelligencer and the Burlington County Times.
I: What changes to your work environment have occurred during the pandemic?
Craig: One of the biggest changes to my work environment is working remotely
all the time. I had set up a podcast studio in the newsroom with a soundboard, microphones and mixer prior to the pandemic. I had to pivot to a remote environment to produce them. Using products similar to Zoom, I record reporters and columnists from our newsroom where they can connect remotely from their location. This, I feel, is better because no one is late and we can invite anyone as a guest without the limitations of travel.
I: Do you believe the changes that occurred were good or bad?
Craig: This change for my type of work has been good. I work more hours due to
eliminating travel, making me available the additional 2+ hours without commuting. Working remotely eliminates time of office chatter and allows me to get more work done in a day’s time. Meetings are all on Microsoft Teams and everyone shows up now with no excuse of not getting there on time.
I: What challenges does your news company face in regards to COVID-19 and what is it
like competing with corporate media in a local news organization?
Craig: In person interviews may not be as common. Almost everyone has the tools to
interview remotely. We have pivoted the same way as our competition and we
continue to grow our digital news.
Throughout my interview with Craig one can find much discussion pointing towards a shift in news agencies getting with the times away from traditional hard print newspapers and more digitally focused. Craig’s position as platform development manager at these various agencies is to focus on growing the audience and maintaining a healthy online presence; in the time of the pandemic, his responsibilities increased tenfold as almost everything was forced to be online. I believe that if it were the case that these local agencies weren’t willing to adapt to the times, they would have been put to rest as many other local and small businesses have throughout the pandemic. This is not only to blame for a business’s unwillingness to change but to be able to compete with their corporate competition. Corporations dominate every realm of our economy today and it is essential for these companies to change in order to make their presence noticeable and worthy. This drift toward a more corporate-dominated world was a trend before the pandemic, but throughout these past years of living through COVID-19 and all that came with it led to an acceleration of this corporate dominated economy. For the world of journalism, wanting to stay relevant in the reality we find ourselves in today we must take steps to change and adapt in order to retain our competitiveness or else local and small news organizations will be no more.
Zach Veltri is a fourth-year Political Science major with a minor in Journalism. ZV914332@wcupa.edu