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Editor hails importance of physical meet-ups after losing full-time base

An editor whose office was closed has hailed the importance of physical meetings for her journalists’ training and mental health.

In an interview with ResponseSource community manager Andrew Strutt, Franki Berry has spoken out against journalists being “stuck inside and only talking to people over Zoom” after setting up a new part-time newsroom for staff working across five Archant titles in London.

Franki, pictured, is responsible for the Romford Recorder, Ilford Recorder, Newham Recorder, Barking and Dagenham Post and the East London Advertiser, but they were left without a base after Archant announced the closure of its Romford office in December.

She has now agreed a deal with Romford Shopping Hall that will allow her team to work out of a unit one day a week.

Franki Berry office

Discussing why the initiative is important for her staff in her interview with ResponseSource, Franki said:” It is an important part of it because mental health, and the awareness of it, is obviously increasing. You don’t want to be stuck inside and only talking to people over Zoom.

“Being able to connect and make friends with the people that you’re working with creates a way more productive work environment.

“People feel more comfortable, and when people feel comfortable they become more creative.

“I think lots of workplaces in lots of industries are struggling with this as we go more into the digital age and do more working from home.”

Franki said she had also had a “steady stream of people coming in with quite sensitive stories” since the initiative was launched, and also remarked on how it had helped her journalists from a training perspective.

She added: “When you’re in a newsroom, as a new trainee journalist, you pick up some fundamental things from watching other experienced journalists.

“A really good way to manage your time is to come into the office and make all the phone calls that you need to make first and then, while you’re waiting on all those different phone calls, you can be getting on with other things.

“That’s just a really good tool to manage your time when you’re juggling quite a busy news list. You don’t learn that at college and training journalists is way harder remotely.”