Journalists at KDKA are still collaborating, just differently.By Ken Rice

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The coronavirus pandemic threw journalists a curve, especially those in TV news.

It takes a lot of collaboration to put a newscast on the air — between reporters and photographers, producers and video editors, graphic artists and the technical crew.

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We’re still collaborating, just differently.

For decades, KDKA’s evening newscasts began to come together each morning in our newsroom’s conference area. Producers and reporters would shuffle in with their coffee and begin running down the day’s assignments. It was a productive way for minds to meet and story ideas to compete.

That conference room has been empty and silent for a year.

And I bet you can guess where the morning meeting has moved. Yes, we Zoom it now. In fact, many of us have seen each other only on Zoom for a year now. But that’s our new arena for story planning and strategizing – and just enough joking to maintain our sanity.

KDKA reporters and photographers’ new routine is to meet up outside the station, do their virtual or distanced interviews, and then — when they’d normally return to the station to write and edit video — instead, they do it all right there in the field. Every news vehicle has become a remote production suite.

A few of us created studios in our homes. That’s how, in the early months of the pandemic, we all got to know Ray Petelin’s cat, the very telegenic Bokey. And someday, journalism students may come from all over to visit Jon Delano’s now instantly-recognizable home office.

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Those of us in the studio are still, after a year, in awe of how it all comes together out there. Not that things are normal in here. Kristine Sorensen and I shared one desk, happily, for years. Now, we’re separated. It was mutual.

And Ray Petelin does the weather so far away from us that the weather may well be different where he is from where we are.

Bob Pompeani? Banished altogether to a separate studio. All, of course, in the name of safety.

In the control room, partitions separate each crew member, and in our newsroom partitions are up even though the population’s way down, with so many colleagues contributing from home.

And as we report the news under these never-before-imagined circumstances, we too, of course, share in this story of our all of our lives.

We’ve lost friends this past year — like meteorologist Bob Kudzma — and have not been able to mourn with his family.

Celebrations have changed, too. KDKA producer Erin Shea and her husband, Casey, welcomed Norah into a locked-down world last April. For months, even Norah’s grandparents knew her only through a screen.

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But with a sense that the worst is behind us, where better to look than Norah’s sweet smile to find joy, and optimism, and hope for better days ahead.