Continuing campus news coverage amid a global pandemic

Continuing+campus+news+coverage+amid+a+global+pandemic

By Editorial Board

It’s been a hectic week, to say the least. There are 197 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Massachusetts as of Monday, according to public health officials. The college made the decision Friday to ask students to leave residence halls at both the Boston and Los Angeles campuses for the remainder of the semester. Student organizations like The Berkeley Beacon are forced to work remotely.

The Beacon also faced difficult decisions within the past few days. With many of our writers and editors leaving Boston, we are struggling to determine how to keep our organization running to the best of its ability.

This week’s edition may be short, but it’s special. It is our way of saying that despite everything going on in the world, we are not going anywhere. As journalists, our professors and mentors trained us for covering news during turbulent times, and a global pandemic certainly qualifies as turbulent times.

Our duty as student reporters is to serve the Emerson community. So, as long as we possibly can, The Beacon will continue publishing articles and keeping our audience informed about campus news. While we will have to modify our reporting, we are committed to updating the community about issues that affect them. We have consistently reported Emerson news for 73 years, and we sure as hell aren’t stopping now.

We have to admit, this is a hard time for journalists to do our jobs. Since most people are ordered to work from home and practice social distancing, meeting with editors about stories becomes almost impossible. All the interviews have to be done over the phone, and all communications and edits are done through chats and comments. 

We choose information accessibility

News and the truth are under constant attack in our current moment, just when they are needed the most. The Beacon’s quality, fact-based accounting of historic events has never mattered more, and our editorial independence is of paramount importance. We believe journalism is a public good that should be available to all regardless of one’s ability to pay for it. But we can not continue to do this without you. Every little bit, whether big or small, helps fund our vital work — now and in the future.

Newspapers in areas with confined cases wonder how they can keep their employees safe while covering news. Because the college is trying to send as many students home as possible, The Beacon only has a few editors left in Boston, with the number decreasing as each day passes. Soon enough, all of us might have to leave the campus entirely. 

This is also an exciting time for journalists, in the worst way possible. This is exactly what all of our education has been preparing us for. In a New York Times article that talks about how The Seattle Times operates during the pandemic, a reporter named Sydney Brownstone said “the whole newsroom just snapped into gear” as she describes how they started covering the virus at the epicenter of its spread.

This is what we did when the Marlboro merger happened, and this is what we did after the college sent out the first email regarding COVID-19. We know the importance of this paper during this difficult time. Rumors about housing, academics, and dining hall services fly around the campus, and we need to take on the responsibility of helping our readers understand the situation. During this time of uncertainty, we are going to do our best to deliver the most necessary information as quickly as possible.

This is the time that we work together to heal and repair our community. As people leaving campus head back home to different places around the world, as alumni learn about the closing online and with social media, The Beacon must step up and provide a platform that brings people together through information. Graduating seniors are looking to us for information about commencement, students who need gear from the Equipment Distribution Center for their projects are looking to us for information about the hours, and students who don’t yet have a place to go are looking to us for information from the Office of Housing and Residential Education. Our community needs information to make vital decisions and we hope our reporting will help their decision-making.

While this is our last print edition of the paper, this is merely a new beginning as we start to cover this virus and the effects it has on our campus and community. No matter where we are, we will continue to track what’s happening in the community to keep our readers informed. When we come back this fall, we hope you step onto campus and still have a good idea of what it is to come.