NL Interview: NYT’s Michael Kirby Smith on documenting the lives of health workers in New York

'Healthcare workers are in extremely stressful situations. There’s also a large emotional toll on them because a lot of patients are not able to be with their families and loved ones,' says the filmmaker

ByNL Team
NL Interview: NYT’s Michael Kirby Smith on documenting the lives of health workers in New York
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Michael Kirby Smith is a filmmaker and photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He works as a senior visual journalist for the New York Times, where he contributes as a photographer, filmmaker, and producer on special projects. He is a 2014 Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grantee, for which he covered the ongoing war in Yemen.

Most recently, Michael and fellow journalist, Nicholas Kristof, visited two New York City hospitals to document the medical workers who are working round-the-clock treating Covid-19 patients. Titled “Heartache in the Hot Zone”, the New York Times video paints a stark picture of overcrowded wards, where stretchers rest bumper-to-bumper, and health workers don't have a moment’s rest as they attend to patient after patient. The video was shot over two days at two hard-hit hospitals in the Bronx. And while it captures the physical and emotional toll on frontline workers, it also shows their unflinching dedication in the face of this pandemic.

In this episode of NL Interviews, Michael gives Snigdha Sharma an account of his experience while shooting the story, how the NYT team managed to get permission to access the two Bronx hospitals, the status of health workers in New York, and a lot more.


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