PinalCentral Teleconference

PinalCentral news staff participate in a teleconference.

Like everyone else, I have had to adjust to life under stay-at-home guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I went shopping the other day and wore a mask for the first time. There were other shoppers also wearing masks, and we nodded at each other as if we were part of an exclusive club, while those not wearing masks seemed to look the other way. A co-worker said when he was out shopping he noticed a couple people in masks also with holstered weapons.

Only in Arizona could someone wearing a mask with a gun inside a store not raise an eyebrow.

Still, I wouldn’t try to take any toilet paper out of their shopping cart.

At work we have begun teleconferencing for our daily newsroom meetings since most of the journalists are working from home now.

At the first meeting I announced we couldn’t start things off until someone had a cat make an appearance on camera. If you have been watching local newscasts you may have noticed cats have become as much of an on-camera personality as the newscasters broadcasting from their living rooms.

At first, the felines were unscheduled camera-bombers who interrupted the newscasts. Occasionally there have been dogs or screaming kids making appearances, but for the most part cats have been the featured interrupters. The animals have become so popular among viewers that the cats currently make scheduled appearances. One Phoenix weatherman even joked that his cat now has an agent.

Outside of the animal hijinks, the video conference has become a better way of coordinating coverage than me independently communicating with each reporter via email or text. Plus, it maintains the social connections that you may have in a regular workplace, without the complaints about what temperature the thermostat is set at.

Also, it helps the staff keep up a routine. And it is a way to make sure the gang is still getting dressed for work. So far so good, although I haven’t checked to make sure they are all wearing pants. I guess that would be on a need-to-know basis. And for some I don’t need to know.

Levity is important to maintaining such social connections during these challenging times.

Recently, some of the reporters have begun wearing T-shirts with sayings or messages on them to share with the others. One had a “Charlie Sheen for President” shirt, while another had “Not Partying is Not an Option.”

I’m watching those two pretty closely.

The bubbly eternal optimist among the group had “Love Wins.”

Another had a shirt that just said “Hemingway,” which is probably the shortest sentence ever written with Hemingway’s name on it.

Years ago I bought a T-shirt as part of a fundraiser for Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalism fraternity that is now called The Society of Professional Journalists. So I thought I would share that with my co-workers.

It was titled the “The Top 10 Reasons for Being a Journalist”:

1. The job security.

2. Most employers supply pens and paper.

3. Respected as much as lawyers and politicians.

4. Regular 9-5, Monday-Friday work week schedule.

5. Copy editors get to read the paper all day.

6. Saved money on wardrobe and toiletries.

7. You get to put a Sigma Delta Chi sticker on your car’s rear window.

8. Spelling not required for broadcast jobs.

9. Provides insanity defense if defendant in criminal trial.

10. Police chief will tell you about the good items at the stolen-property auction.

I know some of you who aren’t journalists might not get all these. That’s because humor during a shelter-in-place pandemic tends to be inside jokes.


You can reach Andy Howell at