In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western Courier opened our newsroom doors and produced the first few issues of the year before disaster suddenly struck. t the end of what seemed like a normal publication day, multiple members of the staff including editors, proofreaders and writers all began to receive word that their places of residence were being placed under a 14 day quarantine. Immediately, the question arose, how is the newspaper going to function? The staff followed proper precautions such as social distancing and masks in the office, but after coming in contact with students who had tested positive for COVID-19, the quarantine period was inevitable.
Unbeknownst to those who have never been a staff member at the Western Courier, being in the Newsroom is an essential part of the job. While stories can be typed from anywhere, the software needed to put them into the layout we use is only available on the computers in the office. While it was deemed too difficult to have one non quarantined person input all stories, photos and pages into the layout, news stops for no one. EDGE Editor Peyton Finnegan said, “The most frustrating thing about being quarantined was that even with all the technology available to us in this day and age, the virus kept us from being able to do our jobs and provide our usual amount of content to the campus community. I am grateful to finally be back in the office.”
Members of the staff were impacted in different ways, with some of their jobs becoming unrealistic to perform from a distance. The Copy Editor and Proofreaders are luckily able to perform their jobs remotely when necessary, but other positions have had to get creative with the manner in which they do their jobs. Photo Editor Sara Remar said, “It has been a difficult semester to take photos due to a lack of events occurring and the restrictions surrounding events that are occurring. In my position, I am trying to uphold the quality of photographs that readers have become accustomed to.” As the Editor-in-Chief, I began searching for news that could be reported from the comfort of our respective homes. While we may not have been able to attend press conferences, events or even interact with the campus community for our quarantine period, we were able to continue reporting based on live streams, press releases and helpful outside sources.
At the end of the day, there is always news to be reported and the Western Courier staff will always find a way to report it. During times when the office cannot be accessed, news is still published on our website and Facebook. Whether the format remains the same or not, editors and writers strive to uphold the same quality of content for the Western Illinois University community.