How ITV News is doing things differently to still bring you the news during the coronavirus outbreak

  • By ITV News Acting Editor Rachel Corp

As the country is being told to Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives, many ITV News viewers and users are asking why we are continuing to leave our homes to make and broadcast our television programmes and digital content.

I don’t need to tell anyone what extraordinary times we are living in. Everything has changed for everyone in the UK and life won’t be the same for a significant period. It is new, uncertain, unfamiliar, challenging and poses so many questions for all of us.

More than ever, people are turning to trusted, reliable news to help navigate the rapidly developing situation and work out how it affects them, their families, their health, their work, their lives. You are watching us in record numbers on TV and online and we appreciate the responsibility we have.

ITV is a public service broadcaster which means delivering programmes for the benefit of the public and ITV News has an obligation to bring you trusted and impartial news. At a time like this, getting you the most up to date and reliable information you need is vital, so you are in the picture and know what is going on.

The government has designated public service broadcasters like us as key workers – we are essential for getting their announcements, messages and decisions to the public quickly and accurately. Which is why we are also being allowed to continue to work when other businesses have been asked to close.

We are committed to bringing you all our usual news programmes and digital content plus new extra shows and features:

  • Lunchtime News at 1.30pm, Regional News from your area at 6pm, Evening News at 6.30pm and News at Ten.

  • Coronavirus: Q&A every Monday at 8pm – a live programme with a range of experts taking the questions you want answered

  • Regularly updated advice and information on and social media platforms

  • The Rundown – our news service for young people

  • Our podcast, Coronavirus: What You Need To Know

Our correspondents - including Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith - are finding a range of creative ways to interview people while sticking to social distancing, including through windows Credit: ITV News

At ITV News, we put people at the heart of everything we do. Our Specialist Editors, Correspondents and Reporters go right to where the story is happening, talk to the people making the news as well as asking you what you are going through, what you think, what you would like to share.

What is happening to the UK right now is too important for us to stop doing that.

The coronavirus has thrown up challenges to this in a way we have never seen before, so we have adapted how we work to keep our staff safe as well as the public and people we are talking to.

You will have seen in our reports that we are sticking to government guidelines on social distancing, staying two metres away from other people, not just the vulnerable.

We have special microphones with long booms to help with this; our camera operators have found ever more creative ways to film, such as through windows when invited to do so; we have been asking you to film for us inside your homes or work places when you want to show us what is happening to you; we are conducting many interviews over Skype or other platforms; we are reducing the size of the teams we send out.

We are not going into the homes of anyone with the virus or anyone the government has classified as vulnerable and as often as possible we are conducting interviews outside.

ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson uses a special microphone with a long boom to interview a contributor for one of our reports Credit: ITV News

Within our teams, we have all but those critical to putting the programmes out working from home. You will have seen many of our well-known faces such as Robert Peston broadcasting from his house. In our studios, you may have spotted we are keeping our guests and reporters a safe distance from the presenters and using microphones on the desks rather than clipped to their lapels. And I hope you will forgive our guests not always looking 100% - we stopped doing their make-up, to protect them and our make-up artists; our presenters are now putting on their own.

As a national broadcaster with a strong network of journalists around the country, we have always been committed to showing you news from across the UK. The virus affects us all and so we still want to be able to travel to communities and properly report back on what is happening, what you need to know, safely and in conjunction with the people living and working there.

Many of our staff are broadcasting from home, including Political Editor Robert Peston Credit: ITV News

This is not just a London story or something we can leave to experts and politicians alone. Whilst we want to get the government’s message out and make sure you have all the information you need, we firmly believe we must to be able to interrogate and find out more from them. This means first-hand interviewing and holding them to account, putting the questions you want answered.

At ITV News we also value and champion the incredible work done by unsung local heroes around the country and so we are determined to keep bringing you their stories and hopefully bringing smiles to your faces at the end of programmes often dominated by difficult news.

Our 6pm regional news programmes continue to deliver a vital service to viewers about their own local communities and there's a lot of creative thinking going on in those teams across the UK, too.

News at Ten presenter Julie Etchingham interviews Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby via Skype - just one of a growing number of interviews we are doing via video calling Credit: ITV News

An increasing number of reporters are now doing their journalism without stepping outside, researching their stories at home, editing interviews they've conducted via Skype on their laptops then transferring their reports to the main newsroom. However, some key stories still mean many colleagues need to leave their homes to film and those who do are also following the strict guidelines about social distancing.

As journalists and broadcasters, we have covered every kind of story – wars, famines, floods, earthquakes, terror attacks and many other natural and man-made disasters. We are used to adapting how we work to keep everyone involved safe.

Coronavirus is totally different – this is not something we report for a while then leave, coming back to the safety of our homes. We are living this together.

It will continue to change and throw up new challenges, but in the meantime, we stay committed to playing our part, keeping ITV News on air to give you the latest information and advice, the tough stories but also the ones that can give us hope and show us the best of how the UK is coming together to tackle this crisis.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know: