Content, usually, can be found all over the place. On a grand scale, anything from foreign relations to a town scandal can be national or even global content. On a smaller scale, school events, student interactions, and even day-to-day life are all relevant pieces of content for yearbook and journalism students. But what happens when these are taken away?
Due to many activities and events being shut down because of the pandemic, journalism and yearbook students are currently experiencing a content drought, requiring them to come up with creative projects or topics to overcome this issue.
“It’s crazy,” says journalism and yearbook student Will Critchfield. “I feel like there’s just so many different things going on this year that, on the one hand, you’re trying to document a pandemic, but on the other, there’s no normal things going on that you can write about.”
Many school-wide events have either had to be cancelled, postponed, or altered to fit with the new quarantine guidelines. For instance, some fall sports are not allowed to have spectators in order to help with COVID-19 rules. This rule, unfortunately, also applies to photographers and limits the amount of journalism and yearbook coverage.
Another issue that students are experiencing is knowing who is at the school and what is going on. Journalism and yearbook student Jack Skywalker expresses, “It's just hard to know what people are doing because you can’t see them. I have very little connections with people outside my classes. There are some people who I didn’t even know are still at the school.”
These factors all play into a very significant content drought that is plaguing many students. Outside of sports, major events, or COVID-19 news, there is not much else to talk about. Will Critchfield reflected this sentiment, stating, “For us, the new normal is no longer a new normal. It’s kinda lost its punch a little bit. Now that we’re just trying to write about something other than Covid, there’s not much to write or take pictures of.”
“Content is harder to find,” reflects journalism student Thomas DeBlock. “We have less opportunities to get good interviews and find interesting topics.”
Despite these setbacks, the journalism and yearbook teams have found new and unique ways to overcome these challenges. Journalism and yearbook advisor Mrs. Leah Genuario took charge of finding new ways to get content for the student publications. “While the yearbook and journalism teams need to make some adjustments, they will follow some different formats,” she says. “The yearbook will look very different this year, and the journalism students have some more unique projects to work on outside of articles.”
“Unlike previous years we now have documentaries, which is a great way to stand out,” says Thomas DeBlock. “We are more likely to get more publicity in a more creative way.”
“I’ve been shooting a lot of videos right now,” says Will Critchfield. “I think that’s what is really important right now. You can write a story, but photos and videos are the best way to appeal to both the present and the future.”
Another aspect that has been worked into the editorial process is online students. One yearbook student, Emma Robinson, has had to adapt to her online environment. “On the one end, trying to get remote students has been an unpleasant hassle because there's been a pretty low response,” she says. “On the positive side, I've spent a lot of time working with the software since it's easily accessible to me, and I think that's led me to become pretty familiar with it. It's been really cool to experiment with it, and to design pages in all sorts of different ways!”
Overall, while content has been tough, these students have found ways to overcome their challenges. Over time, these articles may be looked back on as parts of a unique and unprecedented experience. “I think it’s a really exciting time to be a student journalist because you are living through something that has never happened in recent history,” reflects Mrs. Genuario. “These articles and the yearbook are things that people will pull out for years to come.”