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How Newsy Successfully Launched a Nightly Broadcast in a Pandemic: ‘We’re Very Used to Chaos’

Christian Bryant is reporting live — from an empty newsroom

Newsy is leaning hard into the chaos and solitude brought on by the coronavirus pandemic in its new nightly broadcast called “In the Loop,” which features anchor Christian Bryant reporting from an empty newsroom.

The show’s executive producer Zach Toombs and Newsy’s director of OTT programming Ahmed Al-Kalby spoke to TheWrap about the launch, saying that while the timing has its complications, people in the news industry are “very used to chaos.”

“Covid is disrupting things, obviously, in the format of how we would approach it, but Newsy has always been a very nimble organization, being a digital-native company, so you know, we’re very used to the chaos of an evolving digital market. So, Covid is a different type of chaos, but that’s something that we typically thrive in,” Al-Kalby said.

Toombs added that while the original idea was to show “the hum of a newsroom” behind Bryant, they decided to “lean into” the empty set rather than take him from it: “We decided at a certain point, like, let’s just kind of lean into the fact that this is an empty space because that’s something that everybody can relate to.”

The goal of “In the Loop,” overall, is to be relatable to its digitally-connected audience. Toombs and Al-Kalby highlighted the plan to deliver the day’s headlines with unique style, covering serious topics and Internet trends alike. Trust, too, matters to the team: Newsy was rated the most neutral and reliable cable news network by Ad Fontes Media.

Bryant manages all that with the help of original reporting from Newsy’s journalists, bright graphics and easy-to-follow headline highlights. On Monday’s show, for instance, he not only covered the protests against police brutality in America but offered up a few unique angles. He went over what protesting looks like in an era of social distancing and how coronavirus fears compound safety concerns for demonstrators and law enforcement, then gave viewers historical context.

“Demonstrations are always going to be polarizing and disruptive, which is the point. Today, those civil rights protests of the late 1960s are looked back on as an important step toward justice but when they happened they were pretty divisive and pretty unpopular. Times change and sometimes they change because of protests,” he said.

Like Al-Kalby and Toombs said, though, “In the Loop” has a unique, conversational style. Bryant went from the historical context to this: “But let’s remember why we’re talking about all this in the first place. Lowkey, I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a second to talk about a man whose death precipitated a lot of what we’re seeing right now. George Floyd was more than just the latest name in the grimmest version of Mad Libs that starts with ‘Justice for Blank.'”

Bryant then memorialized Floyd, the unarmed black man killed Memorial Day by police in Minneapolis, by talking about some of the major events of his life, not just the now-infamous moment of his death.

It’s a tough time to launch a news show, but an important time, too.

“In the Loop” broadcasts across Newsy‘s free streaming news app for Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Vizio. The show is also available on the streaming apps of more than 30 local Scripps TV stations. New episodes air weeknights starting at 7 p.m. ET and can be accessed in full on the Newsy app anytime before 1 a.m. ET. It’s on YouTube, too.