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Journalism (school) in the time of COVID-19

Next week, when my classmates and I begin the last quarter of our graduate program, our classes and reporting will look a little different. Like most university students across the US, we found out that our days in and out of the classroom would be conducted at home, via a steady stream of Zoom and phone calls.


This was not the best news for obvious reasons. It was especially hard to swallow at first because so much our work brought us out of our newsroom on K street, and we would no longer be able to do that. For video students, the reality of building a reel from the safety of an apartment seemed impossible, and still does. Many of us had practicums that were canceled and our reporting trips to Alaska and Brazil were permanently suspended. But, it is a good price to pay for our safety, and the safety of our faculty as well.


Two weeks ago, the challenge of reporting from home seemed intimidating. But in the past two weeks, I’m much more optimistic. I’m excited for the challenge, and I’m so happy I have such a great cohort to work with. In addition to teaming up on stories, we’re scheduling Zoom workout sessions, happy hours, and game nights.

Pictured: My cohort in our brand-new newsroom!

Some of us have decided to set some goals and add some new hobbies to make something out of this time. I’m reading more books and improving my embroidery. I've also planned to brush up on my Spanish, and spend more time making graphics and animations using Adobe Illustrator and AfterEffects. Some of my classmates are already getting to work at expanding their coding and Adobe Premiere skills.



Here’s what I’ve been reading:

  • Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland- Patrick Radden Keefe

  • Engine Empire: Poems- Cathy Park Hong

  • Followers: A Novel- Megan Angelo


I also think it has been very helpful to make some changes to my news and screen-time habits. With more time on our hands, it's easier to stay glued to a steady stream of push notifications that will keep anyone up at night worrying about peak times and death tallies. To remedy this, I’ve deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone, and I try to stick to general COVID-19 coverage during my daily news review sessions in the morning.


I’ll close off this little update with an excerpt from my favorite poems, Extreme Measures by Bob Hicock. Published in the 90s, it describes the lengths people went through for a cure during the AIDS pandemic. Today, I find these words especially poignant.




I found this poem in Poetry in Medicine: An Anthology of Poems About Doctors, Patients, Illness and Healing, edited by Michael Salcman. It is an excellent collection, available here.

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