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In the new era of social distancing and most states enacting “stay at home” orders, the landscape of meetings has changed significantly. Face-to-face business meetings are turning into virtual gatherings and even the local news is changing.

With COVID-19 fears spreading and more workers staying at home, TV anchors including WJBK’s Ryan Ermanni and WDIV’s Jamie Edmonds are having to figure out ways to do their broadcasts remotely, while producers stitch them all together in a new-age news show.

Ermanni, an admitted novice in computer technology, had to catch up to some of his colleagues. He uses a Live-U’s “LU-Smart” app to do his part of the broadcast for “The Nine” morning show on Fox 2.

“All I knew how to do was email and surf the web,” Ermanni admitted. “In the last three weeks, I’m almost giddy at how tech-advanced I’ve become. It’s grown immensely. If I can do it, anyone can make a broadcast; it’s so easy to do.”

Zoom has become one of the most popular apps for video conferencing, whether it’s for informal group video chats or bigger business meetings. The company, based in San Jose, California, was seen the app, available on iOS or Android, go from about 760,000 total downloads in the U.S. in January to more than 5.7 million domestically — and 36.7 million worldwide — in March, in data compiled by mobile intelligence firm Apptopia.

As many governors started to order workers to stay home, businesses moved to online virtual meetings, including municipalities holding their regular council and board meetings online.

Local schools have begun using distance learning to reach students as the remainder of the academic year has been in limbo for the past few weeks. Medical facilities are using Telehealth person-to-person video conferences to help doctors have virtual visits with patients without being potentially exposed to coronavirus.

Even the local news is moving to remote broadcasting. Edmonds said that she’s recorded some interviews on her phone using Zoom and uses earbuds for the microphone, an ad-hoc production that loses some of the video quality but works for TV, for her weekend “Benched” series.

Edmonds has done some of her broadcasts from home, which has involved finding a good spot near her living room mantel and perfecting the lighting so that it was suitable.  

“I didn’t hear about Zoom until now but I’m learning as I go,” she said. “I don’t have a bookshelf or home office, so we created a spot in the living room by the mantel.”

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @detnewsRodBeard

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