WSB Cobb County Bureau Chief faces changes in reporting, due to COVID-19

From the WRBL Internship Assignment Desk

This story was produced as part of the WRBL 2020 Summer Intern program

Covering the aftermath of the looting and riots in Buckhead. (Courtesy: Dana Mosley, WSB TV)

MARIETTA, Ga (WRBL) – Chris Jose currently serves as the Cobb County Bureau Chief at WSB Channel 2 Action News. At WSB, Jose covers general news in Cobb County and the region’s biggest stories.

Out of his nearly 14 years of experience in the news industry, Jose has never witnessed anything like the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges COVID-19 has caused on his career, Jose strives to remain positive and remember why he chose to become a journalist.

“Our job as journalists are important now more than ever,” said Jose. “At the end of the day, we got into this industry to keep people informed.”

Jose’s stories have shifted to fit the COVID-19 narrative. Reporting in the pandemic has challenged Jose to get more creative in his news delivery to meet the public’s high demand for information. 

“During these times, people are glued to TV news to get the information, because in some way or form, they will be affected by this pandemic,” said Jose. “WSB’s numbers haven’t been this good in 10 years, and more people are watching.”

Jose needs to know if his family is comfortable with him reporting in public, or not. The health and safety of his family is his priority.

“Family will always be my number one priority and the safety of my family,” said Jose. “We just have to be safe as a human being, see how to do it smartly, and be efficient.” 

Jose appreciates WSB’s willingness to work with and understand employee concerns. The WSB management team has allowed reporters and anchors who are not comfortable reporting in public to work from home. Management has allowed them to work four days a week, without cutting pay.

Before COVID-19, Jose covered crime, court, and general news stories in Cobb County.

During the pandemic, Jose has expanded his news audience and what he covers. Jose now covers topics on health and supplies and reports news to larger areas in Georgia.  

 “While my photographer and I are based in Cobb County, we have a more Metro-Atlanta and North Georgia feel,” said Jose. “We are doing more hyper local stories to broaden our reach.”

Throughout the pandemic, Jose has relied on virtual meeting applications, like Zoom or FaceTime, to interview sources. Although these apps have made it easier for Jose to broaden his reach and coverage outside of Cobb County, developing relationships with sources is challenging.

The connection that Jose typically makes with the source in-person is just not the same over a computer screen.

Home studio set up. (Courtesy: Jaclyn Jose)

“Before COVID-19, you could meet your interview subject and were not worried about getting a virus,” said Jose. “Zoom has made broadening our coverage more efficient, but it seems a bit robotic.”

Completing virtual interviews is one of the more drastic changes Jose has experienced during the pandemic. However, adjusting his daily work routine was not a simple task.

Jose has implemented several restrictions, guidelines, and limitations to stay safe while reporting in the field. Social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing microphones are a few safety measures Jose practices daily while covering stories live on scene.

“We really do not have a choice. You have to adapt,” said Jose.

In addition to those procedures, Jose discusses the risk and reward factors with his photographer daily.

“The safety of yourself and the safety of your photographer is more important than a news story,” said Jose. “It’s going to come down to your comfort level and what is best for you and your photographer in that situation.”

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