Campus Media in Quarantine

From 6 to 6,000 feet, Twin Cities campus media endures.

On March 23, 2020, Governor Tim Walz signed a stay-at-home order for Minnesota residents effective from March 27 until April 10—an order that has now been extended to May 4, 2020. Not long ago, places that were for working, studying, and mingling were bustling on a daily basis. Now, grocery trips or a quick run around the block is the most many people can expect to get out. 

Hubbard School student Cleo Krejci is the editor-in-chief and co-publisher at the Minnesota Daily. She said that despite the easy transition to online-only content, social distancing has made communication with staff more of a challenge.

“As journalists, we have to be in constant contact with one another, and before all of this happened it was easy to catch up in the office or in class,” she said. “Now, we have to be hyper-aware of who we have updated on which stories, and who else we have to update.” With much of the country now operating on Zoom, Slack and Skype, internet connections are stressed and communications are slowed.

In the midst of COVID-19, depression and anxiety are likely to spike in the United States, according to ABC News. The Daily’s newsroom stops on Fridays and Saturdays to combat the effects of seclusion.

For the Minnesota Daily Multimedia Editor Jack Rogers, the documentation of this time is paramount, as future generations will look back on the media to learn about life during the health crisis. Sending out photographers, however, could be seen as irresponsible or even dangerous.

“Great stories are told by taking a step into people’s lives to see the world from their perspective,” he said. “Yet that same community that is counting on our transmission of information is also kept safer by as much limited contact with the outside world as possible.” 

The Wake, a fortnightly magazine, didn’t have much to change when print editions of the publication were suspended, having already released them on a platform called issuu. And since they formerly depended on pitch meetings to get writers for each issue, in-person meetings have turned into a Google form.

“Ultimately, as a platform that allows all students to share their voice, our content is decided by the student body,”  said Tala Alfoqaha, The Wake editor-in-chief. Volume 19, Issue 10 of The Wake was heavily devoted to COVID-19. “Our editors pitched stories that approached the unique circumstances presented by COVID-19 in a variety of different ways, yet also pitched unrelated articles such as reviews of TV shows and music. Many students wanted to process their situation, and chose to write stories related to COVID-19.”

Radio K, as Director Sara Miller puts it, “will never change.” The student-run station, which started broadcasting in 1912, has endured many crises over the last century. It even continued to broadcast while kids were stuck at home during the polio epidemic in the late ’40s.

“It is this personal connection that provides a connection to a wider world; people can still turn to 100.7 FM or 104.5 FM or 770 AM or stream online, to hear new music, just like we did a few weeks ago, before the world changed,” Miller said. “That is emotionally powerful for a lot of folks.”

Although there are no longer DJs in the studio, Radio K’s music is still curated by students, and everyday their inbox is flooded with comments from listeners on how the crisis has been made easier by tuning in to their station. And even in a time of furloughs and unemployment, the station still sees generous donations during their Pledge Drive.

By Courtenay Parker