April 27, 2020
Blog post by Let’s Detroit Campus Ambassador Katie Laduke
The last four years of my college career have been spent working alongside my peers in our campus newsroom to bring the most accurate information and stories to Oakland University’s community. Nothing prepared us for the whirlwind March would bring.
The beginning of March brought countless rumors surrounding the status of keeping classes running and where on-campus residents would go to live. While administrators were struggling to formulate the best plans of action, students were left waiting on the edge of their seats for instructions.
As soon as official news from administrators broke, reporters were right there gathering all the facts and compiling stories. The goal was to publish information about COVID issues daily since the community deserved to be updated through such a difficult time.
Since this emergency brought so many challenges, different questions had to be answered with each story. How would professors transition to online in the middle of the semester? What if students did not have remote access to internet? Would residents be forced to move off campus? What would happen with commencement? The focus of the newspaper shifted entirely to serve as the best source to answer COVID-19 questions for the community.
A college newspaper is the eyes and ears for the student body. Especially as students left campus, reporters were able to use their connection with faculty and administrators to keep a steady flow of information.
With health as the main priority for everyone, the way to gather information and connect with sources changed as reporters relied on telephone/video call interviews and email as a way to stay updated. Major news stations can also be seen implementing these video call strategies as anchors work for home and in-person interviews become scarce.
Even with these changing techniques, reporters still put the pressure on administration to keep the community informed with accurate and timely information. After Gov. Whitmer’s executive Stay Home, Stay Safe order, an issue on Oakland’s campus came when residents were given 48 hours to move out. Prior to this order, administration explained they saw no circumstance that would force residents to move out. After more investigation, reporters found that higher level administrators made this decision to comply with health regulations.
Opinion pieces were also a way for students to have their voices heard with topics covering the political divide, effects on small businesses, and how students are coping with an abrupt end to their senior year. Utilizing a platform in this way allows for others to connect when sharing the same beliefs in a time of turmoil.
At Oakland, the news team produces content for online and print publication. However, print production ceased, and all efforts turned to online publication. I applaud schools like Michigan State University for continuing its print production along with online updates. Schools such as Wayne State University have been continuing its online coverage with timely updates to the websites.
For these student news outlets, it is not about the clicks or views. They are there to serve the campus community with information they deserve to know. If this crisis has proved anything it is that journalism is not dying. It is learning to shift and evolve to changing needs.