No time for fake news
Ask any journalism majors you know about their college experience. It’s a safe bet the ones who worked as student reporters and editors learned more during one day in the field than they did in a year in the lecture hall. Just talk to Michigan Daily guys like film editor Jay Cassidy and photographer Andy Sacks who covered the late ’60s in Ann Arbor. You soon find that chasing a lead, asking the right questions, getting the shot, and turning accurate copy around quickly is something you only learn by doing, and doing, and doing.
Michigan Daily reporters and editors had their work cut out for them this fall. As COVID-19 continued to rack up victims, student reporters suddenly had to hone expertise in infectious disease control and epidemiology, public health policy, labor law, higher education policy, NCAA “policy,” and more.
Working from home since March puts a former student reporter like me at a disadvantage. The Michigan News building is next door to the Daily, and while our offices rarely interact (my group represents THE MAN, after all), the proximity nourishes the soul of the rebellious student reporter who “sold out” as an adult.
It’s pretty incredible that these aspiring reporters even exist since the University doesn’t have a journalism school. As challenging as this semester likely has been and will continue to be for them, they certainly have come to understand more about the rigors of news reporting in this short, turbulent time than predecessors covering more peaceful semesters.
I often use the Daily’s digital archive at the Bentley Historical Library to research University history, and I recently combed through the pages of 1918 after James Tobin wrote about the ways students of that time responded to their own pandemic. I can only imagine what historians in the next century will think when they look back on the archive of 2020. Thankfully, such a record will exist.
Pre-pandemic, I read The Michigan Daily like a snooty critic combing the copy for errors. Since this coronavirus nightmare began, I came to rely on it as a source of campus energy and, yes, news. One day it too will be history.