News Industry Insight: When to Expect a Return to Normal

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After more than a year spent on Zoom, our clients have nailed the nuances of virtual interviews. In 2020, Media Minefield’s clients appeared in more than 7,000 media interviews across the U.S. and Canada. Our team has strong relationships in newsrooms and has a unique perspective on the local and national news industry. 

But even though they have their Zoom backgrounds and lighting just right, many of our clients are eager to return to the studio for in-person interviews. 

Here are some current insights our media teams have noticed across the country: 

In-Person Interviews  

Since many television stations still haven’t brought 100% of their workforce back to the newsroom, our media contacts suspect it will be closer to Labor Day, Halloween or even the beginning of 2022 before in-studio interviews return in a pre-pandemic fashion. 

Between 70-80% of our clients’ interviews are still being conducted virtually. Those happening in person are taking place either outside or inside with social distancing. These options provide a way for reporters and anchors to interact with one of our experts while complying with corporate safety mandates.

Our Media Coaches have also been hearing new information about vaccination requirements for in-person interviews across multiple TV markets. Some stations are asking guests for proof of vaccination before being allowed into the station for an in-person interview. If they haven’t been vaccinated, some outlets will conduct the interview virtually, while others are only booking in-person interviews.  

Lingering Restrictions

Many of our clients have expressed confusion as to why their state or city is now mask-free, but their local news station isn’t open for in-person business just yet. Based on what I’m seeing in the news industry compared to other industries, it’s possible media outlets could be some of the last to lift all pandemic restrictions. 

The majority of local news outlets are owned by large companies with a national footprint. Our contacts are telling us corporations are determining return-to-work dates for all locations rather than taking specific city or state guidelines into account. 

National News 

National news outlets are slowly returning to in-person interviews. In fact, some national TV shows and news programs are flying guests in for in-person interviews. Those interviews are taking place at a significant distance from the TV anchor, rather than sitting across from each other on the couch or news desk. Some shows are allowing live, in-person audiences but are restricting numbers and requiring proof of vaccinations. For example, The Today Show recently had an outdoor concert with 350 fully vaccinated audience members. 

So, what does the future of news interviews look like? For some of our clients, they can’t wait to sit across the desk from their favorite news anchors. For others, they appreciate the convenience of remote interviews. Just like offices and workplaces around the country, we expect a hybrid approach moving forward. Some news interviews will happen via video online and some will take place in-person. In many ways, it gives both parties, the guests and the TV stations, the best of both worlds.