Last week, tentative signs of normal life began returning to Wuhan – the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak was first documented – after a 76-day lockdown. Reuters photographer Aly Song captured pictures of the opening of Wuhan to show the before-and-after of life slowly reemerging. In this week’s Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Aly gives a behind-the-scenes look at how he documented the story.
Q: What was the experience like covering the opening of Wuhan?
A: Our team, which included my text and TV colleagues, waited in cities close to Wuhan for a few days. Once we heard that Wuhan’s roads were open to visitors before the official, partial lifting of its lockdown, we rented a car to travel there in the dead of the night, snapping photos and video as we drove into a completely deserted city and published a story. Once we reached the city centre, we started taking and publishing more photos of the ghost-like city, and then headed to look for a hotel afterwards. I was extremely happy that we managed to make it in before our competitors and to get the opportunity to cover this historic story.
Q: What was the hardest part of covering the story?
A: This is a once in a century event and the virus is invisible, so while I wanted to get up close to subjects, we had to constantly remind each other of the risks and about how to stay safe, wear sufficient protective gear and disinfect regularly.
Q: What makes you passionate about photojournalism?
A: My job allows me to, in the quickest fashion, report on the most important story of the moment and to tell the world of the joys and sorrows that people are feeling.
Q: What having been your most rewarding and most difficult experiences as a journalist?
A: When I can, through my work, cast the spotlight on the most vulnerable and help them gain attention and help, those are the rewarding moments. It’s never easy to report on topics that are sensitive.
Q: Can you imagine being anything other than a photojournalist? If so, what?
A: I don’t know what else I would like to do. Maybe an artist!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: From where I currently am in Wuhan, I wish everyone safety and good health.