MSNBC Producer’s Documentary Follows TV Journalists Covering Covid-19

By Stephanie Tsoflias Siegel Comment

An independently produced documentary released today is telling the stories of journalists who have been covering and working through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Essential Journalists: How Coronavirus Changed TV News was created and executive produced by MSNBC producer Marcus Harun, who went behind-the-scenes to showcase how the pandemic has changed the way news is covered.

In the documentary, Harun remotely interviewed more than 30 news reporters, anchors, photographers and news managers from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

“News is not the same as it was a year ago,” Harun said about the project. “Reporters are working from home, officials are holding press conferences on Facetime, and anchors are reporting on the coronavirus death toll—while dealing with deaths in their own family. I was shocked by Covid-19’s impact on journalism and that’s why I created this film.”

Here is a synopsis of the film:

Armed with 6-foot microphone poles, mask-clad reporters are filming interviews through windows to tell the stories of their communities, while worrying what illness they may bring back to their families. National news producer Marcus Harun remotely interviews dozens of journalists from across the country about how the coronavirus impacted their jobs and the frightening reality of heading out into the danger zone to report vital information to the public. Some of the country’s most-watched news programs are being broadcast out of the anchor’s basements as the industry adopted work-from-home plans for the first time. At the national level, a CNN anchor continued to host his show while suffering from the virus, and CBS lost a producer to Covid-19. In local news, producers grapple with limited resources to telecommute and anchors struggle to babysit their children during live newscasts. This film about social distancing was produced, edited and completed all while social distancing from home in a New York apartment.

The documentary was independently filmed and is not associated with MSNBC. It is streaming for free online starting today on YouTube and at essentialjournalists.com.

Watch the trailer below.

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