‘Adapting was easier’: Boston Globe editorial page editor reflects on 2020 coverage

Throughout 2020, journalists across the country have shared their best practices for working through the pandemic. As we approach 2021, we’re asking what they learned this year and what they hope to learn in the year to come. 

Name: Bina Venkataraman

Current job: Editorial page editor, Boston Globe

Previous Institute Q&A: Why the Boston Globe endorsed 12 ways for 12 voter types

What are the main lessons you learned this year from your reporting that you’ll use next year?

Venkataraman: Our team (the Globe editorial board and Opinion/Ideas teams) does less shoe-leather reporting than our newsroom, so adapting was easier. Very soon in the pandemic, we launched Globe Op-Talks, a conversation series to take the oped into a digital conversation format seizing the fact that so many people were spending more time on their computers. We also used more digital ways of reaching people to capture their voices in our pages, including through a project called Postcards from the Pandemic and an interactive site and newsletter dubbed Don’t Look Back, and via targeted calls to groups and individuals for oped submissions.

How did your work change during the pandemic? 

Venkataraman: Our deliberations as an editorial board, and interviews and meetings with external groups and candidates, were all virtual. We became much more dependent on Slack in our production/editing process and to somewhat replace newsroom banter and other conversations. We also endorsed candidates and ballot questions much earlier than usual in primaries and elections in the pandemic because of mail-in voting.

What do you hope to learn or cover in the coming year? 

Venkataraman: We’ll of course be covering the ongoing public health and economic crisis, the beginning of the Biden Administration, the continued struggle for racial justice, the threat of misinformation to democracy, and far more.

How are you taking care of yourself now that you weren’t at the beginning of the pandemic? 

Venkataraman: Jigsaw puzzling has saved me. It’s become a way for me to noodle on tough problems in the background, while in the foreground putting my hands and mind to work on something tangible and quickly achievable.

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