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Jakarta Post

COVID-19 made us do the impossible: Print remotely

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   08:00 am
COVID-19 made us do the impossible: Print remotely Starting on Wednesday, 'The Jakarta Post' will be produced entirely remotely. Editorial staff and the print production team will work from home to help contain the COVID-19 pandemic. (Shutterstock.com/Photo Kozyr)

The newspaper you’re holding in your hands marks a first in The Jakarta Post’s 37 year history.

The Post's editorial team has seen it all, from the May 1998 riots, the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in the Indian Ocean and the deadly flooding in 2013 that submerged much of Jakarta, to the New Order government’s threat to shut us down entirely.

None of those historic events brought significant disruption to our production process. But COVID-19 is a danger that we cannot take lightly.

When the Jakarta city government declared a state of emergency and ordered companies to allow employees to work from home, we followed the directive and had reporters and editors work remotely. Also, to comply with the government's encouragement of physical distancing, we urged reporters to prioritize their health and safety at the expense of direct access to sources.

But one major problem remained: how to continue producing the newspaper. Producing the daily newspaper requires the physical presence of some of our staff in the newsroom to lay out the pages that are then delivered to the printing press.

That was until earlier this week. With the the coronavirus showing no signs of abating, we decided to lock down our facilities and have the print production team start bringing the newspaper to life from the safety of their living rooms.

It could have been a logistical nightmare, but with the exception of relocating two crucial pieces of hardware, the process was smooth sailing. If anything, this is something that we were preparing for.

In late February, unrelated to the outbreak of COVID-19, we decided to make changes to how we delivered news to you.

For the first time in the Post’s history, we reconfigured the newsroom to deal with the changing landscape of the media industry, which puts speed and accuracy above anything else. With the change, we gave a significant degree of freedom to editors and reporters regarding when and where they could break stories.

So if in the past month you’ve seen an uptick in rapid reporting on COVID-19, that's a sign the new system has taken effect. Now, with only an internet connection, editors can coordinate a vast network of reporters, writers, photojournalists and multimedia journalists to produce the timely, dependable and relevant stories our readers have come to expect.

Printing this newspaper remotely is the next logical step from the method we implemented in February.

Like everyone else, we do not know when this pandemic will end, and we will continue remote production as long as conditions require it. It appears that working from home – in our case producing remotely – will likely be the new normal.

But like everything that has come before, this too shall pass.

The Publisher