In times of pandemics, online webinars and press conferences have become a regular staple for journalists and for In times of pandemics, online webinars and press conferences have become a regular staple for journalists and for many of them, also the main source for their media contents. Unfortunately, few of the organizers of these events realize that online affairs need to be held differently from offline ones to prevent them from turning into the unfocused, long-winded and long-dragging affairs that seem to have now become the norm.
A discussion with a number of media practitioners heard a number of similar complaints being aired, that online events A discussion with a number of media practitioners heard a number of similar complaints being aired, that online events for the media, that are now proliferating in times of pandemic, have not only become ineffective in communicating messages but are also wasting journalists’ time a lot.
Puput Tripeni Juniman, Assistant Lifestyle Editor for CNNIndonesia.com said that online events for the media, such as webinars and press conferences, should be organized more effectively, in terms of content and time. Online events should be better and more tightly packaged than their offline versions.
“It would be better if online press conferences are just held for a brief time. This will allow journalists to work more effectively during the pandemic, considering that the majority of reporting is now done online,” Puput told Maverick Indonesia.
Puput took the example of some event organizers who still persisted in including games and quizzes prior or after their Puput took the example of some event organizers who still persisted in including games and quizzes prior or after their press conferences, a common practice to draw interest in offline events that was made possible because the journalists were already at the venue and leaving before the event was over would not have reflected well on them.
But if held online, such entertainments would not carry the same effectiveness, and journalists , usually already having had to endure long winded talks, can much more easily leave, to attend other online events or just start writing their reports.
Rare are online events that can deliver their message efficiently in not too much time and Puput said that organizers of online events should realize that time and the capability to draw interests through content and rather than through frills is important for an effective delivery of a message online.
Just as in pre-COVID-19 times, when a mere email exchange could often be more effective than holding meetings, simple press releases could often also be more effective in getting a message across than holding hours of press conferences or webinars.
The COVID-19 pandemic has indeed created new limitations in interactions, including for journalists, and the discussion between Maverick Indonesia and members of the media was mainly to find out how effective they could do their coverage in times of pandemic and what were their preferences.
Reporting in times of pandemic poses a dilemma, both for the journalists and their resource persons alike. Mobility restrictions and health protocols that have to be respected to prevent the spread of the CoronaVirus, is making face-to-face events a definite rarity. Journalists have to be content with holding their interviews online, through telephone conversations, or writing contents from online press conferences, webinars and discussions, or the more conventional press releases.
Brands and corporations as well as public relations practitioners have to definitively realize the need for them to more acutely adjust their message delivery to meet the needs of their media coverage. Online events are not the only option.
The online delivery of messages has become most popular in times of pandemics, both among journalists and their sources of content. This is also further supported by the policy of many media managements that are limiting offline coverage to protect the health and safety of their employees.
Puput said that her own newsroom only allowed offline reporting for particular channels such as for the news desk and national desks where direct reporting is essential. Other channels, such as on lifestyle and health, were almost exclusively reported from online events.
The discussion with the media also found that although a number of media focusing on lifestyles were still open to offline reporting, but only if they met a number of requirements. They include that the offline events are not held during the Level 4 PPKM period.
Maria Rosari, the Lifestyle Editor for Antaranews.com said that equally important was for the organizers of offline events to strictly adhere to health protocols and ensure that only events with real news value be held offline.
Fitria Sofyani, who heads KumparanWoman at Kumparan.com, also stressed the imperativeness of respecting health protocols in holding offline events. She cited limits on the number of participants, antigen test requirements for participants, ensuring that the venue be sanitized and whenever possible be in open spaces so that social distancing can be respected.
No less important, according to Fitria, was that the journalists invited to an event must have received the approval to report from the editorial management. Such approval was part of the media’s responsibility towards its journalists. “I will always follow the policy of the office. If Kumparan allows us to report on an event, we will definitely attend it ,” she said. (*)