“We recorded our first episode in bed, on the phone,” laughs Thapa, who spent the first five months of the lockdown at her home in Matatirtha, producing stories from her neighbourhood. The podcast, targeted at a rural Nepali audience, was soon hooked up by 20 community radio stations.
But working from home comes with its own challenges. “In the beginning it was fun because I could work from bed, but eventually, you’re always staring at your four walls, especially if you live alone,” says Gurung.
In India, however, the opposite was true for Hashim (who goes by his first name), a journalist with Data Leads in New Delhi. He says, “Everyone is not privileged. If you’re living in a one-BHK (one bedroom, hall and kitchen) apartment in Noida with six family members, it can be challenging.”
Hashim was also filming tutorials for journalists on reporting from home, which required him to turn his home into a makeshift studio. “You’re constantly asking everyone to quiet down during recordings and online meetings. It can take a toll on your family,” he says. “And if you’re freelancing, it is hard to sell a story without the Covid angle.”
In India, 44 journalists died due to the virus, which made Hashim himself aware of his own mortality. He has not left his Delhi neighbourhood for six months as he continues to mine data for journalistic videos from home, while skipping to stay fit. “I’m exercising for the first time in my life,” he says on WhatsApp.