Beyond the newsroom: Lantern journalists step up to provide coronavirus coverage
BY JOSH FRIESEN
Reporters around the country have been working tirelessly to ensure their communities stay informed with the latest information regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
The journalists at The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, are no different.
“I’ve been super proud of what they’ve been doing,” said Spencer Hunt, lecturer in the School of Communication and faculty advisor for The Lantern. “This group has really taken to heart and internalized all the things they’ve experienced this year, and they’re applying it now to a situation we’ve really never seen before.”
The coronavirus is a complicated, multifaceted story that hasn’t stopped evolving. Its effects have reverberated around the globe, affecting economics, transportation, athletics, business and health care.
As those waves first rippled across Ohio State, administration took swift action to keep the university community safe. From restricting international travel to suspending face-to-face classes to cancelling athletic events, the coronavirus’s impacts on campus were abrupt and jarring, and The Lantern was at the forefront of the breaking news to keep Buckeyes up-to-date amid the chaos and uncertainty.
I chose journalism because I wanted to help people and give them the information they need to make decisions,” said last year’s Editor-in-Chief Kaylee Harter, who graduated in May with undergraduate degrees in journalism and geography. “To me, this is why we all wanted to be in journalism.”
Harter was poolside in Mexico on spring break when Ohio State announced March 9 that face-to-face instruction had been suspended and that classes were moving online. She ran back to her hotel room and fired up her laptop to start writing, editing and planning how The Lantern would cover the developing story.
The rest of that school year and into the summer, reporting on the coronavirus has been an around-the-clock endeavor.
“When coronavirus started breaking, my first reaction wasn’t as a student,” said current Editor-in-Chief and John B. Fullen Scholarship recipient Sam Raudins. “My first reaction was to start covering it.”
Journalism alumnus Griffin Strom, then the newspaper’s sports editor, was in Indianapolis preparing to cover Ohio State in the Big Ten Conference men’s basketball tournament. On the morning of March 12, he was leaving his hotel to scope out the basketball arena when he learned the tournament had been cancelled.
That was when Strom shifted gears. Instead of covering the Buckeye men’s basketball team, he began reporting on the shockwaves the coronavirus was sending across the Ohio State sports landscape. The dominoes were falling quickly — from the conference tournament to the NCAA Tournament to the entire Big Ten spring sports schedule — and Strom was adapting on the fly to the bombardment of news.
“We’d never encountered a situation where things happened that fast,” Strom said. “We had to be on our toes more so than any other time all year. Every few minutes, it was like something you’d just put out was already old news because there was something new happening. It was definitely an invaluable experience.”
After the initial news onslaught, The Lantern had a chance to regroup and strategize content about the fallout caused by cancellations, restrictions and suspensions. From reporting on how international students were impacted to a story on seniors reflecting on their semester being turned upside-down, the newspaper’s coverage expanded to include a broader picture of the coronavirus’s ramifications.
Covering the coronavirus for reporters — especially those also navigating their lives as students — can be emotionally and physically draining. But the journalists at The Lantern rallied together to serve their community as a team.
“We love doing this, and we know it’s necessary work,” Raudins said. “It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.”