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Despite Pandemic, KTLA Maintains ‘Broadcast Quality’ Newsgathering

Rich DeMuro, tech reporter, prepares to go on-air from his home. (Image credit: KTLA)

LOS ANGELES—When the coronavirus pandemic hit earlier this year, KTLA, the CW affiliate in Los Angeles, News Ops Manager Matt Groeteke had full support from GM Janene Drafs and Jason Ball, vice president of news, helping the staton adapt to the new challenges.

Their response was to keep staff informed with all-hands meetings in both mornings and afternoons. Fortunately they had a supply of N95 masks (due to California’s frequent wildfires). The cleaners were harder to come by, so they proportioned out cleaners and gloves in bags to make them last.

More than half of the station’s staff ended up working from home, including sales, writers, producers, special projects, creative services and their anchors and reporters working from home with home broadcast kits.

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KTLA newsgathering tools include a combination of TVU, LiveU and Dejero, and they incorporate remote teleprompter use through Dejero’s CuePoint. This allowed anchors and reporters to work with broadcast-quality gear and included critical technology like IFB and prompters. By using a setup that included a six-modem gateway, they were able to ensure a full broadcast frame rate, perfect lip-sync, no tiling or “web meeting quality” drawbacks. Utilizing professional IP-ENG technology meant no noticeable loss of quality.

KTLA’s parent company Nexstar provided full guidance for safety procedures and protocols, and as staff has partially returned, provided increased facility cleaning and plexiglas safety panels to isolate work areas from each other.

A big change to field shoots is when the ENG vehicles are used, the driver/photog and reporter travel separately and when interviewing, boom mics are now used to provide a minimum 6-foot distance. In addition, the trucks are all deep cleaned and sanitized once a week and are well-supplied with masks, gloves, cleaners and face shields.